Axworthy might soon have his first talks in Eritrea
has for the first time said that it might be ready to meet the UN envoy to
the Horn of Africa.
A government spokesman told the BBC that
Lloyd Axworthy could go to Eritrea as long as he did not try to alter a
decision on its border with Ethiopia.
Ethiopia has rejected a 2002 world court
ruling giving Eritrea the town of Badme, where a border war started.
Eritrea's new position follows the visit of
a high-level European Union delegation to Asmara earlier this week.
The delegation led by Irish Foreign
Minister Brian Cowen said it wanted to give a strong message for the two
sides to move the process forward.
In February, Eritrea refused to see Mr
Axworthy, saying that the only way of making progress was for Ethiopia to
accept the world court ruling.
Mr Axworthy did have talks with Ethiopia.
Presidential spokesman Yemane Gebremeskel
denied that Eritrea was doing a U-turn, saying it had never received details
of what Mr Axworthy's role was, implying that he was going to review the
whole peace agreement.
"The Special Envoy should not tamper
with a closed file, which is the decision of the Boundary Commission on where
the border is and how it should be implemented," he said.
"If it was clarified that his role is
expediting and lubricating then we might meet with him."
An 18-month border war ended in June 2000
after tens of thousands of soldiers had been killed.
Following Ethiopia's rejection of the
border ruling, there were fears that the war could reignite last year.
A UN peacekeeping force is patrolling the
security zone between Ethiopia and Eritrea.