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Ethiopia welcomes Libyan offer to settle border row with ertitrea

February 14, 2009 (ADDIS ABABA) – The Ethiopian Prime Minister welcomed Libyan efforts to end border conflict between his country and Eritrea. He added that his government is ready for peace talks.

During a three day visit to Eritrea earlier this month after the end of African summit, the new chairman of the African Union, Muammar Gadhafi announced in Asmaraon February 8 he would launch an initiative to end the order dispute between the two countries.

He told reporter in a statement the official media didn’t report, that his initiative would be based on the court’s ruling and the constitutive act of the African Union.

“We very much welcome (Libyan) offer to help us resolve our problem,” the Ethiopian Prime Minister said on Friday. “The only way for us to do that is for us to get together and iron out our issues.”

However Zenawi expressed doubts over the willingness of the Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki to negotiate a peace deal over the disputed border town of Badme.

“I am sure (Gadhafi) will devote a lot of energy,” But I believe (Afwerki) is unlikely to change his coulours’ Zenawi said.

In November 2007, Ethiopia said ready to implement an agreement signed between the two countries in Algeria in 2000 that I had initially rejected but called for more negotiations. However Eritrea has persistently maintained that the border issue was a closed case once the boundary commission in 2002 passed a decision that awarded it the contested town Badme.

Eritrea gained independence from Ethiopia in 1993 following a 30-year guerrilla war. But both claim Badme and fought a bloody two year war from May 1998 to June 2000 in which at least 80,000 people were killed.

(ST)

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