US urges Congo to slow oil and gas push into rainforests

Mr Lutundula told the press conference with Mr Blinken that Congo would keep its promise last year to protect rainforests, but also stressed that the government must find ways to improve Congo’s economy , a nation of 90 million people that is one of the poorest in the world. It was operated for decades as a colony of Belgium before being ruled by dictators.

“The challenge is to find a balance, a balance between the well-being of the Congolese and also the need to guarantee a framework, a development framework, an ecological framework,” Mr. Lutundula said.

He also referred to the history of foreign companies in his country, saying: “We know that there are countries that have been exploiting the wealth of the DRC for years and do not respect biodiversity at all”.

The Congo Basin rainforest stretches for 1,500 kilometers across central Africa. It acts as a large carbon sink, slowing climate change by removing 1.5 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year, according to Mr Lewis.

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