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German leader due to visit

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder is to visit Ethiopia later this month to help try and break the impasse in the stalled Ethiopia-Eritrea peace process.

The federal chancellor will make his first visit to four African countries including Ghana, South Africa and Kenya, said the German ambassador to Ethiopia, Dr Helga Graefin Strachwit.

Schroeder, who heads the Social Democratic Party in Germany, will also deliver a keynote speech to the African Union focusing on its peace and security policy for the continent.

Dr Graefin Strachwit said that while the current peace process “does not look extremely bright today”, intense diplomatic efforts are underway to break the deadlock.

US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Donald Yamamoto is currently on his second visit to Ethiopia, meeting Prime Minister Meles Zenawi in search of a breakthrough.

He will also travel to Eritrea in the coming days where he will meet President Isayas Afewerki before returning to the US.

Ethiopia and Eritrea fought a bloody two-year war over their disputed border which claimed tens of thousands of lives. They agreed to abide by an independent ruling to demarcate the border, but Ethiopia has since rejected the verdict.

Dr Graefin Strachwit said direct budget support to Ethiopia was unlikely to be affected “for the time being” by the deadlock, a position, she said held by the European Union.

She also played down Eritrea's opposition to any “new mechanism” to resolve the deadlock. “I do think so far nothing has really changed,” the ambassador said. "This is the kind of language we have heard earlier.”

She also announced a breakthrough for an investment protection agreement to promote greater trade between the Germany and Ethiopia.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information:

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