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Sudan Tribune

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Ethiopia urges strong UN action against foe Eritrea

February 16, 2008 (ADDIS ABABA) — Ethiopia urged the United Nations on Saturday to take strong measures against “rogue regime” Eritrea, which Addis Ababa said was undermining the world body by cutting off food supplies to its troops.

On Friday, a U.N. spokeswoman said Eritrea had cut off food supplies to U.N. troops along a border with Ethiopia, with whom it fought a two-year war that killed some 70,000 people.

She also said Asmara had allowed only about half a dozen U.N. vehicles to cross into Ethiopia as part of a pull-out forced by an earlier blockade of fuel supplies by Eritrea, which no longer wants the UNMEE peacekeepers.

“The United Nations must not be intimidated by a rogue regime in Eritrea, which has hindered the temporary relocation of UNMEE in Ethiopia”, said Ethiopia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Wahade Belay.

“The United Nations’ prestige and its role as protector of peace and security in the world has been greatly undermined,” he told Reuters.

“The world body should take strong action against the rogue regime in Eritrea as a lesson to others which may attempt to violate its charter and undermine its peacekeeping role.”

At an emergency session, the U.N. Security Council condemned Eritrea’s “lack of cooperation”, held it responsible for the mission’s safety and demanded it end all restrictions or face unspecified action.

Asmara dismissed the charges and accused U.N. peacekeeping officials and the Secretary-General’s office of making “unwarranted accusations” and “distorting the reality” of the U.N. mission.

Insinuations that UNMEE troops in Eritrea were in danger were “unfounded”, Eritrea’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

The 1,700-strong U.N. mission started work in 2000 at the end of Ethiopia and Eritrea’s two-year border war, and has been stationed in a 15.5-mile (25-km) buffer zone inside Eritrea.

Asmara’s ties with the United Nations have sharply deteriorated since an independent boundary commission marked the 1,000 km (620 mile) border by map coordinates in November.

Eritrea, which accepted the border ruling, says the United Nations should now focus on ending Ethiopia’s “occupation” of its territory. Ethiopia has rejected the ruling, calling for more dialogue.