Congo, Republic of the - Foreign policy



Recent hostilities in the Republic of the Congo highlighted the role that international actors have come to play in sub-Saharan Africa. Sassou-Nguesso's military campaign was largely financed by France. Lissouba had broken the French monopoly on oil extraction, awarding some concessions to U.S. companies. The French, in supporting Sassou-Nguesso, clearly hope that he will reinstate that monopoly.

Relations with the United States are likely to remain unchanged. The country is not, in itself, of political significance to U.S. strategic interests, but it is important to U.S. oil companies. The U.S. government tends rather to view the Republic of the Congo as part of a regional sphere, in which Angola takes priority.

Relations with its African neighbors are, for the most part, cordial. The Republic of the Congo played an important role in brokering the Cuban withdrawal from Angola and the move towards Namibian independence from South Africa. Angolan troops also played a significant role in Sassou-Nguesso's victory, largely a reaction to Lissouba's support for the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), a rebel movement that fought the Angolan government for two decades. In December 2002, the Angolan troops began to pull out of Republic of the Congo, ending their five-year presence. A long-standing border dispute with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire) remained unresolved in early 2003.

Despite the disappointment of EU officials concerning the shortcomings of the Republic's 2002 elections, the EU has recognized that the democratic process is still in its infancy in the Republic of the Congo. The EU will continue to support and encourage efforts that allow the Congolese a more active role in their own government and negotiations for peace.

In September 2002, Sassou-Nguesso met with Libya's president Mu'ammar al Qadhafi to discuss ways the two nations could work together to foster trade, settle violent civil conflicts on the African continent, and improve the profile of the African Union (known until July 2001 as the Organization of African Unity). Sassou-Nguesso also sought increased Libyan investment in the Republic of Congo.

The Republic of Congo is a member of the United Nations, African Union, African Development Bank, World Trade Organization (WTO), Economic Commission for Central African States, Central African Customs and Economic Union, International Coffee Organization, Union of Central African States, International Telecommunications Satellite Organization (INTELSAT), International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), Nonaligned Movement, and Group of 77.

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