Angola eyes extension to maritime border with Congo

Wed Mar 24, 2010 4:56pm GMT

By Henrique Almeida

LUANDA (Reuters) - Angola is trying to reach an agreement with neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo before it submits a request to the United Nations for its maritime border to be extended to cover an area with huge oil reserves.

The Anglolan parliament approved a resolution on Wednesday that allows the government to enter into talks with the Congo, which last year accused Angola of stealing its oil , about the border extension.

Angolan Justice Minister Guilhermina Prata said the goal was to extend Angola's maritime border to up to 350 nautical miles from 200 miles.

"An agreement with the Democratic Republic of Congo on our northern maritime border will create the conditions for Angola to submit a request (to the United Nations)," Prata told members of parliament.

Angola rivals Nigeria as Africa's biggest oil producer.

But Congo, struggling to recover from a 1998-2003 war, has no offshore oil operations. Its narrow Atlantic coastline lies between the main part of Angola and its northern exclave of Cabinda.

Under the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, coastal states may explore and exploit the natural resources of their continental shelf for up to 200 nautical miles from shore.

They can apply to extend their border's outer limit to up to 350 nautical miles in certain circumstances.   Continued...

<p>Angola's President Jose Eduardo dos Santos talks to journalists after a signature agreement ceremony held at Sao Bento Palace in Lisbon, Portugal, March 11, 2009. REUTERS/Hugo Correia</p>
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