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Written Parliamentary Question: 8th December 2005

Ethiopia/Eritrea
Q: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps the Government are planning to take to respond to the tension between Ethiopia and Eritrea; and what action it plans to take to support the United Nations Security Council resolution imposing economic sanctions on the two nations if they do not return to the conditions of the peace plan signed in 2000. (John Hemming)

A:We remain concerned at the continuing tensions between Ethiopia and Eritrea over their disputed border. We continue to underline to both parties that there must be no return to war; that the decision of the Boundary Commission is final and binding, and must be implemented; and that they should engage in dialogue on all the issues that divide them.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1640 (2005) allows Ethiopia and Eritrea 30 days to respond to the demands made of them in the resolution to withdraw troops from the border area, and for Eritrea to lift the ban on UN helicopter flights. After that period, the Security Council will consider imposing sanctions in the form of an arms embargo. We will continue to assess how an arms embargo would affect the situation, including the wider impact of an embargo, as the situation develops. We are working closely with UN and Security Council partners to find a way forward for this problem. The use of economic sanctions has not been specifically raised by Security Council members and we believe this action is unlikely to be proposed. (Ian Pearson, Minister of State (Trade), Foreign & Commonwealth Office)

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