Congo and Uganda boost oil and security ties

Mar 05, 2009 01:00 AM

Congo and Uganda have agreed to upgrade diplomatic relations and boost cooperation on security and oil exploration, the neighbours and former enemies said.
The two countries' presidents held talks on their shared border, highlighting improved relations after two wars over the last 15 years, during which Ugandan forces backed Congolese rebels and were accused of looting resources.

Late last year, Congo's President Joseph Kabila allowed his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni to send his soldiers into Congo to hunt Ugandan Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels. New finds by Heritage Oil and Tullow Oil on the Ugandan side of Lake Albert, which lies on the border, have also accelerated cooperation after previous tensions over the frontier had resulted in armed clashes.
"The two leaders agreed to strengthen further the relations between Uganda and the (Congo), as well as the area of security, oil and gas exploration," said a joint statement issued by Uganda.

Uganda said late February that itexpected to have in excess of 1 bn barrels of oil on its side of the lake and that it would start producing oil towards the end of 2010 or in early 2011. Oil exploration on the Congolese side is far behind, with Tullow still in talks with the government over a disputed block and estimates for reserves still unknown.
Analysts say the aim of the companies operating in the region is to establish operations on both sides of the lake and pump oil out by pipeline through Kenya.

The talks were the presidents' first face-to-face meeting outside a third country since the end of the war in 2003. Accompanied by his foreign, defence and oil ministers, Kabila inspected an honour guard and received a 21-gun salute in the western Ugandan border town of Mpondwe before being escorted back to Congo on foot by Museveni, the statement said.
"The two leaders agreed, among other things, to upgrade within a month, the diplomatic missions between Uganda and the (Congo) to ambassadorial level," it added, saying that Kabilahad invited Museveni to visit Congo's capital, Kinshasa.

Ugandan soldiers are still hunting the LRA in Congo, where they have destroyed rebel bases, scattering the fighters, but failed to capture any of the senior leadership, which is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes.
Nearly 1,000 Congolese civilians have been killed in rebel reprisals.

Source / AFX News Limited
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