18 February 2012

Tanzania: EU Seeks Release of Swedes

Tense negotiations are underway for the release of two Swedish journalists jailed by Ethiopia on terrorism charges in September.

A delegation from the European Union, of which Sweden is a member, is said to have already met with Ethiopian prime minister Meles Zenawi.

EU and Swedish officials are this week expected to outline options to further press the Horn of Africa country into releasing 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," a high ranking EU official told this reporter on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue."Aid suspension is the last option."

Ethiopia was granted 644 million euros ($838 million) in developmental and humanitarian aid for the period between 2008-2013.

The country is one of the leading recipients of western aid with top donor the US donating 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.

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