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Volume 455: debated on Monday 8 January 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the prospects of the Government of Ethiopia handing back the offices of the Ethiopian Bible Society to their original owner. (109267)

We are aware of this property dispute and our ambassador in Addis Ababa raised this issue with the Mayor of Addis Ababa recently. We will continue to make appropriate representations but this is a private matter which we hope can be resolved through negotiation with the relevant Ethiopian Government agencies.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions she has had with the Ethiopian Government about political violence and intimidation. (109857)

Our ambassador in Addis Ababa and embassy officials have frequent discussions with Ethiopian Government officials and Prime Minister Meles, most recently on 25 November, about the internal political situation, the detention of opposition leaders and civil rights. We continue to urge the Government of Ethiopia, and opposition, to exercise restraint, return to inclusive peaceful dialogue and continue the democratisation process.

But ongoing sporadic violence in rural areas of Ethiopia demonstrates the continuing political and social divisions in the community. We will continue to raise these matters bilaterally and together with EU partners, through the article 8 dialogue.