The Panamanian government announced that it has been unanimously admitted to the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, a program meant to keep conflict diamonds off the world market.

The request for admission was presented by Panamanian Trade and Industries Minister Ricardo Quijano in Washington, scene of last week's plenary meeting of the KPCS, an official spokesman told Efe.

The Kimberley Process was implemented in 2003 on the initiative of African producing nations, importers, exporters, civil society and industry to avoid the discrediting of the legitimate international trade in rough-cut diamonds by dissuading the introduction of stones extracted to finance violent conflicts.

"After Minister Quijano's presentation to the plenary session, incorporating Panama was unanimously approved, ... (and it was) formally admitted as a participating country in the Kimberley Process," said a communique from the Trade and Industries Ministry.

According to the source, admitting Panama to the Kimberley Process will allow the country to establish itself as a regional center for trading in diamonds in bulk, "taking advantage of the geographic position, the connectedness and the legal and financial stability" the country enjoys in the region.

Now, 76 countries have joined the Kimberley Process, and these represent 99.8 percent of the world's diamond production. EFE