THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
STATEMENT BY THE PRESS SECRETARY
National Security Adviser Anthony Lake met Thursday at the White House with representatives of the Transitional Government of Ethiopia and four leading opposition groups following three days of talks held in Washington under the auspices of the Congressional Task Force on Ethiopia. The meeting underscored the President's commitment to democracy in Ethiopia.
Mr. Lake welcomed these talks, the first face-to-face dialogue between the Ethiopian government and several of these groups in almost four years. He noted that the talks represented an important step forward in the democratic process in Ethiopia. He underscored that following the tragedies suffered by the Ethiopian people over the past decades -- including civil war and mass starvation -- the leaders must not miss this opportunity for long-lasting peace, prosperity and democracy.
Mr. Lake said that the Administration will continue efforts to encourage productive dialogue among the parties, and he welcomed the establishment of a multi-party forum to address issues related to May 7 parliamentary elections in Ethiopia.
In addition to the Government of Ethiopia, the parties participating in the talks were Southern Ethiopia People's Democratic Coalition, All Amhara People's Organization, Coalition of Ethiopian Democratic Forces and Oromo Liberation Front.
The Congressional Task Force is chaired by Congressmen Harry Johnston and includes Congressman Alcee Hastings, Global Coalition for Africa Senior Advisor Herman Cohen and State Department Director of East African Affairs David Shinn.
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