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Volume 176: debated on Wednesday 11 July 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement about the progress of efforts to secure peace in Ethiopia.

The negotiations between the Ethiopian Government and the rebels are, sadly, deadlocked. We shall continue to work for their resumption.

The Minister's answer is sad. What are the British Government doing to help both the rebels and the Ethiopian Government to resolve the problems and to bring peace to Ethiopia? What are the prospects for putting together a long-term aid package between Britain and the other EEC countries that could be offered to the Ethiopian Government and the rebel troops as soon as a peace treaty is signed?

If a peace treaty were signed, I am sure that the international community as a whole, and especially the European Community, would be in the vanguard of wanting to help with the rebuilding of Ethiopia, which will be a mammoth task. I am sorry to note that the Eritrean People's Liberation Front has now shifted its position. Having pressed for the presence of United Nations observers at the talks—the Ethiopian Government accepted that—the EPLF has changed its position and withdrawn from the talks. We are no further forward.

Why cannot the Foreign Office recognise that propping up the evil Mengistu regime is the most misguided policy, especially at present? Surely the time has come to dissociate ourselves from the well-meaning international pretence by the EEC and others that Ethiopia still has any form of moral or territorial integrity left, because it just does not.

There is no question of propping up one Government or another. If my hon. Friend is seeking to pursue a course that will encourage the division of Ethiopia, I must urge him to recognise that he will be recommending a course that will prolong the war indefinitely. We should be saying to the Eritreans, "You have won by force of arms as much as it is realistic to win and you should now settle for the advanced autonomy that you can negotiate."