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Ethiopia: Eritrea

Volume 486: debated on Thursday 22 January 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the UK’s role is in resolving the Ethiopia-Eritrea border dispute; and what (a) funding and (b) staff resources he has allocated to this function. (249350)

The UK’s policy towards the Ethiopia-Eritrea border dispute has three aims: to avoid any return to war; for the border to be demarcated; and for the parties to normalise their relations. Ethiopia and Eritrea should agree a way forward to allow demarcation to proceed and for a normalisation process to begin, as set out in the Algiers Agreements of June and December 2000, to which both Ethiopia and Eritrea are signatories.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, East (Mr. McNulty) the then Minister for Counter Terrorism and Immigration discussed the border issue when meeting the Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi on a visit to the horn of Africa in June 2008. My noble Friend, the Minister for Africa, Asia and the UN, Lord Malloch-Brown also discussed this issue with the Eritrean ambassador in December 2008. In addition, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) officials regularly reiterate these messages to both the Ethiopian and Eritrean ambassadors to London and to their interlocutors in the Governments of Ethiopia and Eritrea in Addis Ababa and Asmara respectively.

From July 2000 to July 2008, we funded the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) through our assessed contributions. Our embassies in Addis Ababa and Asmara along with other members of the FCO are involved in efforts to resolve the dispute. However, as this is one of many issues with which they have to deal with, it is difficult to offer a precise figure for resources used for this purpose.