Monitors criticize Belgium for Valentine's Day calls to ease controls on Zimbabwe diamonds

Published February 13, 2013

| Associated Press

A world monitoring group on conflict diamonds says it wants restrictions on the sale of Zimbabwe diamonds tightened in the face of calls to relax them by diamond companies in Belgium.

Global Witness said the St. Valentine's Day holiday, marked Thursday, coincides with calls by Belgium to ease controls on diamonds from the eastern Zimbabwe fields of Marange, long mired in allegations of killings, human rights violations and corruption.

Belgium has argued the controls hurt revenue filtering down to ordinary Zimbabweans. But Global Witness insisted Wednesday the European nation's interests were "closer to home" in its diamond center of Antwerp that promotes diamond gifts at this time of the year.

The group warned against what it called "a love triangle" between Belgium, its diamond dealers and Zimbabwe.

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