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Volume 178: debated on Wednesday 24 October 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a further statement about the peace process in Ethiopia.

As a result of recent contacts in the United States, there is a prospect that the negotiations between the Ethiopian Government and the Eritrean People's Liberation Front may resume.

Given all the talk about a new world order, does the Minister agree that that new world order should try to inject some urgency into peace negotiations within Ethiopia, because until peace is established within Ethiopia there is little hope of effective aid reaching the large numbers of people now starving in Government-held areas and in areas held by the various liberation fronts? Will the Government use all their offices to get some action, rather than simply talking about talks?

I agree with the link that the hon. Gentleman makes between the establishment of peace and effective aid. Until there is peace, there will never be an end to the hunger crisis in that country. The principal responsibility must lie with the warring factions, who too often in recent years have seen the mirage of a military victory and therefore broken off negotiations again, but it is somewhat more encouraging that they are talking again.

Does not my right hon. Friend consider the disastrous situation in Ethiopia to be yet another example, in economic and human terms, of Marxism in action?

Certainly the Ethiopian Government have had a terrible record in the past both on human rights and in the competence of their economic and social doctrines. They are now jettisoning those doctrines very fast, which gives some hope for progress.