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Sec. Council Extends UN Role In Ethiopia, Eritrea

Security Council extends UN mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea

The Security Council today agreed to extend the mandate by six months of the United Nations peacekeeping mission monitoring the ceasefire that ended the border war between Ethiopia and Eritrea in 2000, voicing concern about the ongoing tensions between the two African neighbours.

In a unanimous resolution, Council members said repeated violations by both sides of the Temporary Security Zone (TSZ) along the border, and continued delays in the demarcation of that border, were creating a "potentially unstable security situation."

The resolution called on Eritrea to immediately withdraw its troops and heavy military equipment from the TSZ and on Ethiopia to reduce the number of additional military forces recently introduced in areas next to the TSZ, and urged both sides to de-escalate the situation by returning to December 2004 levels of deployment.

Ethiopia and Eritrea should show maximum restraint towards each other, refraining from threats of force or ending their exchange of hostile statements, the resolution added. Earlier this month, in a report to the Council, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had asked that the mandate of the UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) be extended until the end of January next year - a request the Council endorsed today.

The Council resolution and Mr. Ban's report also reiterated previous appeals to Eritrea to lift all restrictions it has imposed on UNMEE's movement and operations, and said it would reconsider any changes to UNMEE depending on future progress towards demarcation.

The demarcation of the border has stalled despite the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC) handing down a final and binding decision in 2002, and today's resolution voiced frustration at the lack of recent progress on the issue.

It stressed that Ethiopia and Eritrea also have primary responsibility for implementing the Algiers Agreements, the pacts which ended the border war in 2000, and called on the two countries to take concrete steps to resume and complete the demarcation process.

The EEBC has convened a meeting with Ethiopia and Eritrea in New York on 6 September, a move that has been welcomed by the Council.

The 15-member panel also welcomed a recent letter from the Ethiopian Foreign Minister to the Council President saying that his Government has accepted the EEBC border decision without preconditions, and called on Ethiopia to immediately take action to enable the Commission to carry out that decision.


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