Eritrea + 1 more

Eritrea appeals to global powers over border

By Ed Harris

ASMARA, June 20 (Reuters) - The international community should put pressure on Ethiopia to respect a legally binding ruling over its disputed border with Eritrea, Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki said on Monday.

Diplomats have warned that Ethiopia and Eritrea, which went to war from 1998-2000 over the border, run the risk of starting a new conflict unless there is a breakthrough.

In December, Ethiopia moved as many as 48,000 soldiers closer to the border, saying the movements were purely defensive. But Eritrea said the move was provocative.

"We call on those that claim to tag themselves with the label of 'the international community', and who continue to allow that the rule of law be violated and our sovereign territories remain under occupation to shoulder their responsibilities before it is too late," Isaias said.

Both countries agreed to accept as "final and binding" a 2002 boundary ruling under the terms of a deal to end their two-year border war, which killed 70,000 people.

The ruling awarded the flashoint town of Badme to Eritrea.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said in November that Ethiopia accepted "in principle" the ruling on the demarcation of the 1,000 km (620 mile) border, but called for dialogue first. However, Eritrea insists on full demarcation first.

Isaias, in a speech commemorating Martyrs' Day, criticised unnamed foreign nations for the simmering tensions between the Horn of Africa countries.

"All this is a result, not of the TPLF's might, but rather of the external blessings of spoilers that continue to encourage the regime's defiance of the rule of law," he said, referring to Meles' former rebel Tigrayan People's Liberation Front.

"A legal decision remains overstepped for three years and the prevalence of a dangerous situation that demands due attention has become inevitable," he added.

In May, Isaias said the United States should shoulder much of the blame for the U.N. Security Council's failure to enforce the border ruling.

He accused Washington of giving political and military support to Ethiopia cloaked in the guise of counter-terrorism.

The United States has said the border decision should be implemented without qualification.


Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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