Statement by Under-Secretary of State Rino Serri on the conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea
"Given the escalation of the conflict between Eritrea and Ethiopia (which is claiming thousands of victims and has led to hundreds of thousands of displaced people and huge material and moral destruction), diplomatic efforts must be stepped up to seek a political solution.
The Algerian President Bouteflika (who is the current President-in-office of the Organisation for African Unity in charge of the mediation effort between the two countries) issued a communiqué this morning urging the two sides to resume peace talks in Algiers.
I, myself, having followed all the phases of the crisis since the outset, am about to visit the two capitals, amid very many difficulties, in an attempt to help get the two sides back onto the path of negotiations.
Yesterday's meeting with the High Representative of the European Union for Common Foreign and Security Policy, Javier Solana, and the direct talks I had this morning with the Algerian Minister Ouyahya, who is the OAU Presidency's special envoy for negotiations between Ethiopia and Eritrea, were an essential part of this preparatory work.
Intensive contacts are being held with the governments of the two warring countries.
Even at this tragic moment we must act with determination in order to put an end to the hostilities and achieve a lasting agreement between the two countries in conflict".