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Eritrea-Ethiopia: 15th meeting of the Military Coordination Commission held in Nairobi

The 15th meeting of the Military Coordination Commission (MCC) was held on 29th January, 2003 in Nairobi in a relaxed and positive atmosphere.

The meeting was chaired by the Force Commander of the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE), Major-General Robert Gordon. Brigadier-General E.N. Kamteni represented the African Union (AU). Ethiopia's military delegation was led by Brigadier-General Yohannes Gebremeskel, and Eritrea's military delegation was led by Brigadier-General Abrahaley Kifle.

In his opening remarks, Major-General Gordon reemphasized the significance of the MCC as the only forum in which the two Parties currently can meet formally to resolve differences. He urged them to use it for such. He also praised the professionalism of both Parties' troops when dealing with difficult situations and thanked both Commissioners for using their good offices to resolve potential problems. He recalled that since the last MCC meeting held on 11 December, 2002, there had been a number of developments which had been resolved.

"I hope that what we have learned over the last six weeks will help us improve and build better mechanisms because this process is about getting the details right and building mutual confidence in our ability to handle local problems," he added.

On the issue of demarcation, which is being carried out by the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC) and supported by UNMEE, General Gordon informed the meeting that UNMEE, with the cooperation of both parties, was about to start demining the routes that would be needed for demarcation.

In his opening remarks, Brigadier-General Kamteni re-emphasised the fact that the MCC meetings were an important forum and appealed to participants to consider their decisions carefully before taking them.

General Yohannes expressed appreciation for the Force Commander's efforts in trying to fulfill UNMEE's mandate. He said that the most important issue was to try to control crises and to try to find solutions to them. Building on this, General Abrahaley, for his part, identified several issues that still needed to be resolved.

The meeting also discussed the killing of an Ethiopian civilian on 18 December 2002. Central Sector Commander, Colonel S. Bhattacharya, made a brief presentation on the incident. General Gordon then presented a report on UNMEE's investigation into the incident. Both Parties agreed to continue with the joint investigation teams to look into such incidents in the future and improve joint reactions to them at the local level.

The Commission received a short briefing on the military situation in the Temporary Security Zone (TSZ), which remains calm.

The 16th meeting of the MCC is scheduled for 19 March 2003 in Djibouti.

For additional information contact the UNMEE Public Information Offices:

Addis Ababa, phone 251-1-443396; Asmara, phone: 291-1-151908