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Volume 450: debated on Monday 16 October 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions she has had with (a) the Ethiopian Government and (b) the leader of the Somalian Union of Islamic Courts to try to avert conflict. (93726)

My noble Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Lord Triesman, and our ambassador in Addis Ababa and his staff have frequent discussions with Prime Minister Meles and other representatives of the Government of Ethiopia about the situation in Somalia. We do not have any bilateral contacts with the Union of Islamic Courts, which is not a single entity, but officials take part in multilateral meetings outside Somalia where various of their representatives are present. We continue to urge all parties inside and outside Somalia to refrain from action that could provoke violence, to respect the UN arms embargo on Somalia and to pursue a peaceful resolution through dialogue under the Khartoum process.