By ARGAW ASHINE, NATION Correspondent in Addis Ababa
Friday, February 17, 2012
Tense negotiations are under way for the release of two Swedish journalists jailed by Ethiopia for terrorism in September.
A delegation from the European Union, of which Sweden is a member, is said to have already met Ethiopian prime minister Meles Zenawi.
EU and Swedish officials are this week expected to outline options to further press the Horn of Africa country to release the journalists, including a review of aid obligations.
“In the last couple of days, we have been discussing with Ethiopian officials and we hope to secure the release of the two reporters,” said a high-ranking EU official who declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue. “Aid suspension is the last option.”
Ethiopia was granted Euro 644 million ($838 million) in developmental and humanitarian aid for the period 2008 to 2013.
The country is one of the leading recipients of western aid, with the top donor, the US, giving out an estimated $1 billion annually.
Addis Ababa has, however, been more recently inclined to the East, with China and India having so far provided about $650 million in credit and investment.
Sweden is applying massive diplomatic pressure after the two reporters were in December sentenced to 11 years in prison.
Martin Schibbye and Johan Persson were arrested in Ethiopia during fighting between government troops and rebels from the secessionist Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF).
Ethiopia accused them of being in the country illegally and assisting the ONLF rebels
Source: Daily Nation