Monday, August 27, 2007

Ethiopia orders 6 Norwegian diplomats to leave country

The Associated Press

Ethiopia has ordered six Norwegian diplomats to leave the country by Sept. 15, expressing "dissatisfaction" with Norway's conduct in the Horn of Africa region, the Norwegian foreign affairs minister said Monday.

Ethiopia asked Norway to withdraw the six diplomats on Aug. 15 and since then, Norwegian officials have tried to get their Ethiopian counterparts to clarify the reasons for the order, but with no success, Norwegian Foreign Affairs Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere said.

Ethiopian Foreign Ministry spokesman Wahide Belay said he was not aware that Norwegian diplomats had been asked to leave the country.

"I haven't heard about this, that they were told to leave," Wahide told The Associated Press late Monday.

"We are surprised and regret the Ethiopian authorities' unilateral decision," Stoere said in a statement posted on the ministry's Web site.

"We must now take the consequences of the fact that the Ethiopian authorities are upholding their decision and we are therefore making preparations to withdraw six diplomats from our embassy in (the Ethiopian capital) Addis Ababa," Stoere said.

The statement said that the expulsion of the diplomats did not "imply" a break in diplomatic relations with Ethiopia.

Diplomats at the Norwegian Embassy in Ethiopia declined to comment, referring all inquiries to the statement on the ministry's Web site.


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