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ReliefWeb Source: UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea
Date: 1 Apr 2004

UNMEE media briefing notes 1 Apr 2004

UNMEE PUBLIC INFORMATION

A near verbatim transcript of the press briefing, given in Asmara by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General Legwaila Joseph Legwaila, via videoconference linking participants in Asmara and Addis Ababa. Also present in Asmara was the Acting Force Commander Brigadier-General Walid Kreishan and the Spokeswoman and CPIO, Gail Bindley-Taylor- Sainte.

POLITICAL

On 25 March, the Special Representative of the Secretary General, Ambassador Legwaila Joseph Legwaila, accompanied by his Deputy in Asmara Angela Kane, and the Force Commander, Major-General Robert Gordon attended the second UN medal parade of the Finnish Contingent at the Finnish Camp in Asmara, at which 86 Finnish soldiers were awarded the UN medal. In the afternoon, the SRSG departed Asmara for Addis Ababa.

On 26 March, the SRSG met with diplomats in Addis Ababa. He briefed them on the current situation in the peace process as well as on his meetings in New York and Security Council consultations in connection with the renewal of the UNMEE mandate, which culminated in Security Council resolution 1531 of 12 March 2004.

On 26 March in Asmara, the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General (DSRSG-Asmara) Angela Kane received a Jordanian delegation, led by Major-General Abed Al Fatah Al Maiteh , who paid a courtesy visit.

In Addis Ababa, The SRSG met on 28 March, with the Norwegian Deputy Foreign Minister, His Excellency Vidar Helgesen, who was visiting Ethiopia and Eritrea. They discussed the current situation in the peace process.

The SRSG held a town hall meeting for UNMEE staff members in Addis Ababa on 29 March.

On 30 March, the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General (DSRSG-Addis Ababa) Cheikh Tidiane Gaye attended the official launching of the "National Partnership Forum against HIV/AIDS in Ethiopia". The event took place at the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and was attended by His Excellency Ato Girma Woldegiorgis, President of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, other senior Government, African Union and UN officials.

On 31 March, the SRSG, accompanied by DSRSG Gaye, met with a Romanian delegation led by Ambassador Petru Petra and comprising representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Economy and Commerce and the Ministry of Defence. They exchanged views on the current situation in the peace process. (Romania is currently a member of the Security Council.)

On the same day (31 March), the SRSG, accompanied by DSRSG Gaye, met with the Ambassadors of Algeria and the US and exchanged views on the current situation in the peace process.

MILITARY

General Overview

During the past week, UNMEE conducted 572 ground and 10 air reconnaissance patrols throughout the Area of Responsibility. The general situation in the Mission area remains militarily stable. There have been no significant changes in troop locations or dispositions reported over the past week.

In all sectors, UNMEE peacekeepers continued to provide medical assistance to local civilians, including Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), along with supplies of bulk water to civilian communities in the Temporary Security Zone (TSZ) and the Adjacent Areas.

Restrictions of Freedom of Movement

The Asmara - Keren - Barentu road continues to remain closed to all UNMEE vehicular movement, a restriction that considerably hampers UNMEE in the performance of its mandated tasks.

Mine Action

The Slovak Engineering Company, demining mechanically and manually, cleared an area of 5,082 square metres in the Adi Hakin-Mai Hbey minefield and an area of 400 square meters in the vicinity of the village of Sheshebit (8 kilometres southeast of Shilalo) in Sector West.One POMZ-2 anti personnel mine and one PMN-3 mine were cleared in the Adi Hakin-Mai Hbey minefield. In Sector Centre, a detachment from the Company manually cleared an area of 1,764 square meters along access roads to the border area near Ksad Eiqa, about 15 kilometres south of Adi Quala. No UXOs were found.

The Kenyan Demining Engineering Company, working in the Adi Hakin-Mai Hbey minefield, manually cleared an area of 1,145 square metres and disposed of six POMZ-2 anti-personnel mines and one fuse.

UNMEE Mine Action Coordination Centre is currently in the process of moving its Regional Officer for Sector West from Barentu to Shilalo.

During the period 22-28 March 2004, the MACC route clearance contractor, MECHEM, cleared more than 23,000 square meters of land in the Mai Hbey minefield in Shilalo. During this operation, MECHEM also located and neutralized 204 anti-personnel mines (POMZ 2M).

During the month of March 2004, the Peacekeeping Force demining assets and MECHEM cleared more 105,000 square meters of land and more than 170 kilometres of road. In addition, the Force demining assets, MECHEM and the MACC Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Team disposed of 269 anti-personnel mines and 243 UXOs.

Meetings And Visits

On 26 March, an eleven-member Jordanian Army delegation, headed by Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations and Training of the Jordanian Army, Major-General Abed Al Fatah Al Maiteh, arrived in the Mission. On 29 March, the delegation visited the Sector West Headquarters and the Jordanian Battalion Headquarters at Barentu and was briefed by the Sector West Commander Colonel Mohmmad Al-Salim. Over the following two days the delegation visited the Jordanian Battalion Company locations at Shilalo, Shambiko and Om Hajer and the Platoon locations at Fawlina and Adi Lala. At each location, the respective Commanders briefed them on operational matters and the current situation on the ground. On 2 April, the delegation will be visiting the Indian Battalion Logistics Camp at Senafe.

Two senior Indian Army officers led by Deputy Director General Staff Duties Brigadier V. K. Ahluwalia are visiting the Mission. On 31 March, they met with the Acting Force Commander Brigadier General Walid Kreishan and later visited the Indian Battalion camps at the Italian Fort, Zela Ambessa and Senafe. At Senafe the Acting Central Sector Commander Lieutenant Colonel Devendra Singh Mankoti briefed them. Today (1 April), they will be visiting the Indian Battalion Check Post at the Mereb Bridge and the Company at Adi Quala. The delegation, which arrived on 31 March, will depart from the Mission area on 1 April 2004.

Questions and Answers

Spokeswoman: I wish to welcome Ambassador Legwaila Joseph Legwaila to our press briefing for today. We also have present with us, the Deputy Force Commander Brigadier General Walid Kreishan who is in fact, the Acting Force Commander at the moment. We will have a statement from the SRSG and then take your questions.

SRSG Legwaila Joseph Legwaila: Good morning, let me welcome you all to this Press Briefing. I am pleased to have this opportunity to provide you with an update on the recent political developments in the peace process, as well on the most important diplomatic initiatives undertaken by the international community to break the current stalemate.

Since December 2003 the international community has undertaken important diplomatic initiatives to break the stalemate in the peace process.

The visits to Eritrea and Ethiopia by the Minister for African Affairs of the United Kingdom, Mr. Chris Mullin, and the US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Mr. Donald Yamamoto, spearheaded a diplomatic effort to reinforce the position of the international community that the EEBC decision is final and binding. The Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, Mr. Gerhard Schroeder, during his visit to Addis Ababa also called on the Ethiopian government to implement the EEBC decision "before the Kingdom comes".

The Secretary-General officially appointed Mr. Lloyd Axworthy on 29 January 2004 as his Special Envoy for Ethiopia and Eritrea in order to facilitate the implementation of the Algiers Agreement. The UN Security Council, the US Government and the Guarantors of the Algiers Agreements all expressed their full support for the good offices mission of the Secretary-General through the instrumentality of the Special Envoy. The Secretary-General in his letters to both Prime Minister Meles and President Isaias made it clear that the mission of the Special Envoy does not constitute an "alternative mechanism" to the EEBC process and that it would not re-open the EEBC delimitation decision for re-negotiation.

The Special Envoy Lloyd Axworthy paid his first visit to Ethiopia from 19 to 22 February. Mr. Axworthy, I am sure you remember, met with Prime Minister Meles and with Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin of Ethiopia and the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Tekeda to exchange views on the implementation of the EEBC decision. However, as everyone knows, he was unable to continue his mission to Eritrea because the Eritrean Government would not receive him.

The Security Council, as well as the international community in general, is frustrated by the current stalemate. The frustration is clearly reflected in the Security Council Resolution 1531, and I hope you have read it, of 12 March 2004, by which the Council extended the Mission's mandate by a further six months, to 15 September 2004. The resolution calls on Ethiopia to unequivocally re-affirm its acceptance of the EEBC decision and to proceed with demarcation activities, and on Eritrea to "engage constructively and without further delay" with the Special Envoy.

The prevailing situation in the Mission area since the adoption of Security Council Resolution 1531 has been relatively stable. However, the continued delay in the demarcation of the border is beginning to impact the operations of the Mission and as you know in our Press Briefings in the past few weeks, we have been complaining about increased or increasing restrictions of freedom of movement for our peacekeepers, and this is the result of the frustration, I am sure, which the Parties in the absence of the demarcation of the border, feel.

In view of these increasing obstacles mainly in the denial of freedom of movement being placed in UNMEE's way, it is very clear that the Mission faces a tremendous challenge in fulfilling its monitoring mandate and maintaining the conditions conducive for the demarcation of the border, which is our main responsibility, to create conditions on the ground so that the Boundary Commission can demarcate in safety and peacefully. Nevertheless I am confident that UNMEE has the requisite resources and resolve to meet these challenges. I thank you very much, I can take some questions from you. I have limited time, unfortunately.

Q [From Asmara]: Hello Ambassador Legwaila, about Lloyd Axworthy, do you think the UN failed in its attempt to mediate between the two countries or do you believe he is going to try to come here again?

SRSG: Let me preface my answer to your question by saying that I am not the Spokesman of the Special Envoy. I hope you'll understand that, because our responsibilities are totally separate. I am the Head of a Peacekeeping Operation. He is the Special Envoy to encourage dialogue between the two countries, and I am sure that you will not be surprised to know that I may not even be well informed about his activities, except to tell you that he exists as the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General. Therefore, I will be very reticent in answering any questions, which might be interpreted as my appointing myself the Spokesman of the Special Envoy. But having said that let me say that I don't think it would be right to say that his mission has failed because his mission has just started.

Q [From Addis Ababa]: Thank you Sir, would you say that both sides, Ethiopia and Eritrea have given you support in your activities as called for by the Security Council?

SRSG: Ethiopia and Eritrea have been giving me support and cooperation since I arrived on these shores in November 2000. The reason why we are still here and the reason why we are still maintaining the integrity of the Temporary Security Zone, is because the two countries have cooperated with us. The only problem that we have had occasionally, this is not new - is the denial of freedom of movement and we have always of course been able to sit down with the Parties and try to make sure they understand that without freedom of movement we as a peacekeeping force become useless; because our work involves a lot of patrolling, a lot of going from one place to the other, and if we are not allowed to do so, then we are not rendering the kind of service that the parties have invited us to render. As I said to the Security Council the other day and the Troop Contributing Countries, if we are denied freedom of movement, or if our movement is restricted, we become useless, useless to the Parties because we have not come here to rot in barracks. We have come here to do our work and our work involves a lot of patrolling, a lot of traveling from one place to another.

Q [From Asmara]: Thinking specifically about the situation here in Eritrea, there is a well documented road which has been closed to UNMEE's use and I believe there was also an incident about a week or so ago where a bus of local workers of UNMEE were detained and stopped. Would you describe Eritrea's response to UNMEE at the moment as deteriorating and would you regard that treatment of UNMEE local workers as harassment?

SRSG: Well, I have protested the arrest of our workers as I have done throughout the life of the Mission here. It is my responsibility and obligation that anytime our workers are interfered with by any of the two Parties, I have to protest, and I have to protest without fear or favour. Therefore I have protested the arrest of these people in the Western Sector. Unfortunately the restriction on our freedom of movement on the Eritrean side has increased, but we are busy trying to make the Eritreans realize that we will be of no benefit to them, if we are not allowed freedom of movement. This has to be made clear. It was made clear by the Security Council. If you read the resolution 1531 it was made clear by the Troop Contributing Countries, because they don't want to send their troops here only to see them humiliated and stopped from doing the job for which they have been invited.

Q [From Asmara]: Do you think the Eritreans frustration with the peace process is boiling over into their treatment of UNMEE?

SRSG: Well I wouldn't say so categorically, but I can understand that sometimes frustration makes people do things which are not in their best interest and I just hope that the frustration with the EEBC process is not going to make life miserable for a peacekeeping operation, which in the past more than 40 months has done its duty, has performed its functions, has carried out its mandate,to the bestof its abilities. We have created conditions along the border conducive for the demarcation of the border and the stalemate is not the responsibility of UNMEE.

Q [From Addis Ababa]: Ambassador Legwaila, do you see much hope in the intermediary efforts that Nigeria or Angola have been encouraged to make?

SRSG: I have to say to you that all these allegations about one or the other country, members of the AU being asked to mediate, is a misinterpretation of the letter, which the President of Eritrea has written to 53 members of the AU. I don't know whether the Eritreans have asked 53 members of the AU to mediate. If you read the report of the meeting between President Dos Santos and the Ambassador of Eritrea, there was no such word as "mediation." The Ambassador asked the President of Angola "to counsel" Ethiopia to implement the decision of the Boundary Commission. He never "asked the President of Angola to mediate" and as you know the Eritreans denied categorically ever asking the President of Nigeria to mediate. All I know is that there is a letter, which was written on the eve of the AU Summit in Sirte. A letter written by President Isayas to all the 53 Members of the AU, asking them to put pressure on Ethiopia to cooperate in the implementation of the decision of the Boundary Commission.

Q [From Asmara]: As you have mentioned there have been a lot of attempts or some attempts from the international community to try and make the peace process to move forward. At the moment, it's very difficult to see what's gonna happen next and the situation seems to be quite blocked. What do you think it's the priority now, what do you think should be done?

SRSG: I think even the Security Council realizes that unless the Parties themselves decide to carry on with the implementation of the Agreements they signed in 2000, there will be no solution to their problem. In other words the peace process will collapse. If the Parties themselves, in pursuing their very best interests, are not prepared to cooperate with the Boundary Commission to demarcate the border, then the border will not be demarcated. You know peacekeeping is always successful if there is cooperation between the parties and the United Nations, or in this case, between the Parties and the EEBC. They cannot be forced to cooperate with the EEBC. They signed two agreements in Algiers and they have implemented these agreements to date. Now they are faced with the prospect of not being able to complete the implementation of these agreements and that is a problem, which they have to face themselves, because they cannot be forced to do what they do not want to do as sovereign states.

Q [From Asmara]: Can you be more specific and tell us what you expect from each Party?

SRSG: What I expect from each Party? Well for the Ethiopians, as stated in resolution 1531, to restate their acceptance of the decision of the Boundary Commission, pay their dues to the EEBC, appoint the field officers of the EEBC and proceed with the preparation of the border for demarcation. For the Eritreans, of course, they are being called upon by the international community to engage Special Envoy of the Secretary General because this is not the first time that the Secretary General has appointed a special envoy to try to help parties implement an agreement. There are special envoys all over the world. Even today as we are sitting here there is another one, who is coming to look at the humanitarian situation in Ethiopia and Eritrea. Therefore it will not be unusual for the Eritreans to receive a Special Envoy of the Secretary General, even if they may not agree with the message he would be carrying. So in other words, the resolution of the Security Council makes it clear: "Ethiopia restate your acceptance unequivocally of the decision of the Boundary Commission. Eritrea please engage the Special Envoy of the Secretary General, who is coming here to assist the two Parties, to find a way forward."

Q [From Addis Ababa]: It seems as if you are looking at the border situation from just the EEBC point of view. There doesn't seem to be any give in trying to see if there is another solution to solving the pockets on the border that are causing the problem. Why are you so strict? I mean in today's world compromise is the word and it often achieves better (results) than being very staunch and rigid in your stand.

SRSG: Well, it's not my stand. It's the stand of the international community. It's not my stand at all.

Q [From Addis Ababa]: Well you are a representative of that stand?

SRSG: No, I think you're mistaken. I'm quoting the resolution of the Security Council, I'm quoting a resolution of the Security Council: Ethiopia "re-state your acceptance of the decision of the Boundary Commission. Eritrea, engage the Special Envoy. " So, it's not my stand. And I'm also quoting the Peace Agreement of December 12, 2000, in which the Parties decided in their wisdom that the decision of the Boundary Commission would be final and binding. That's all I'm saying. I'm not saying the Parties are not entitled to do whatever they might wish to do with the decision of the Boundary Commission. As you know, there is a standing invitation from the EEBC to the Parties, if the Parties want to empower the Boundary Commission to vary the decision of 13 April 2002, the EEBC will oblige.

Q [From Asmara]: Whenever you come and speak to us, you've tried to maintain a certain optimism about the peace process and the way forward. What can you draw on here, which gives you any optimism? Many people I've spoken to would be entirely pessimistic about the prospects here.

SRSG: Well, because many people you speak to seem to be very ready to be pessimists. In life, pessimism doesn't always help. Optimism gives you hope all the time to struggle to find a solution and the reason why I always appear to be optimistic is because I have not come to a point where I can write off the determination of the Parties to find a solution to their problems. I still believe that Ethiopia and Eritrea in the final analysis, will realize that it is in their best interests to implement the decision of the Boundary Commission. I don't know in what form - because in whatever form it will be implemented is the responsibility of the Parties themselves. It is not the responsibility of the United Nations. The United Nations will help them, but it is they who have to decide what it is that they want to do with their own decision, which they said is final and binding. Therefore, it is not just blind optimism. It's just me as the Special Representative of the Secretary General continuing to hope that Ethiopia and Eritrea, who have done so well in so far as the peacekeeping side of the process is concerned, that they will do the same with the decision of the Boundary Commission, because this is the final phase of the process that we have been engaged in since 2000.

Q [From Asmara]: On a personal note, you've been here since the beginning of this Mission and you've been working with the Parties all through this, as an individual and as a person, how has it affected you? Have you become extremely frustrated or fed up?

SRSG: To tell you the truth, I'm a human being. I'm frustrated because I really believed that by now the Mission would have ended, and it's frustrating that we're still here. Even more frustrating because conditions for the demarcation of the border exist. We have stabilized the situation along the border. The Temporary Security Zone is stable and therefore, there has never been any complaint about the non-existence of conditions for the demarcation of the border. Everything we have been asked by the Boundary Commission we are prepared to do -- de-mining (for example)-- some we have done, (for example) provision of logistics to assist the Field Office of the EEBC to carry out its work on the border. So that is frustrating. And of course, additionally what is frustrating for me and for the Security Council is the fact that we are spending $200 million! Two hundred million to maintain conditions which already exist, that is, conditions for the demarcation of the border. I'm frustrated but I'm not prepared to give up.

Q [From Asmara]: So you'll be here until the end of the Mission?

SRSG: Well, I will be here, hopefully, until Ethiopia and Eritrea demarcate the border, and until the last pillar is planted, as is required by my mandate. My mandate is inextricably tied to the demarcation of the border, (that is,) tied to the last pillar on the border. Unless the last pillar is planted, according to the mandate of UNMEE, UNMEE cannot wind down its work and close mission. Let me say, I will be here as long as the Secretary-General wants me to be here.

Q [From Addis Ababa]: Ambassador Legwaila, with all the constraints you have elaborated, is there a chance still about making a breakthrough? Secondly, you mentioned Mr. Axworthy's appointment and the Security Council's latest resolution urging both sides to cooperate with his mission. What are the prospects of his coming shortly to the Mission area?

SRSG: As for the Special Envoy, I don't know what his prospects are for coming again to the Mission area because I am not in touch with him. As you know he is a Special Envoy and his country of residence is Canada. It doesn't mean that he's in some office in New York and I don't know when he'll be coming back here. As for the prospects for a breakthrough, your guess is as good as mine. I just hope that the international community will continue to assist the Parties and assist the Special Envoy to find a way forward.

Q [From Asmara]: I think you heard about an EU Troika who should be coming here on Sunday and staying less than 24 hours in Eritrea and then go to Ethiopia. What do you think can be the use of such a visit?

SRSG: I think the use of such a visit is that they will come here first and discuss the process with the Government of Eritrea, and then they will go to Ethiopia and discuss the process with the Government of Ethiopia. The international community cannot just sit there and say, "unfortunately, the Parties don't want to proceed with the implementation of their Agreements." The international community must continue to urge them, to assist them, to egg them on, to find ways of proceeding with the implementation of the Boundary Commission. I believe that they need help. The United Nations is ready to help them. The Secretary-General has appointed a Special Envoy, and I'm glad that the Troika is coming to discuss the situation with them. So I can't say exactly what it is they will achieve, but I welcome their visit.

Q [From Addis Ababa]: The Ethiopian Government has made itself very clear: saying that the decision of the Boundary Commission is unjust and so it has asked for an alternative mechanism. Under this condition, do you really feel that a war might break out again?

SRSG: No, I am advised by my Force Commander and his colleagues that as we are sitting here, there is no sign that the two Parties want to go to war. And I am advised by the leadership of Ethiopia and Eritrea that it is not their intention to resolve the stalemate by resorting to war. Therefore a combination of the two advices plus the observation by UNMEE on the ground --as you know, we are mostly on the ground, there are few people in towns,-- we are patrolling the border areas and therefore we know on a daily basis what the situation is like there, and I can tell you if we see something brewing we will be able to let you know, in advance, because we are there. We are there on the border and we are patrolling on both sides of the border. So there is no sign that the Parties are about to start another war. In any case, they have said they don't think there is any reason to resolve this problem through violence.

Q [From Asmara]: Do you think in some ways all this talk of the international community fulfilling its obligations, all these delegations visiting the different cities, is in one way damaging, because it's giving the two Parties an excuse not to take the initiative themselves in trying to resolve the problem between themselves?

SRSG: Well, that's how diplomacy works, unfortunately, whether we like it or not. When you have problems you don't sit there and say, "well, one morning, I'll wake up and find that those problems have disappeared." You continue to pursue all kinds of avenues to continue to find solutions to problems. Therefore, there is no way the international community is going to leave Ethiopia and Eritrea to their own devices, and say, "you created the problem yourselves, you must solve it." And I don't think that the Troikas, the people who have been visiting these two countries are encouraging the two Parties to relax, to stop looking for a solution to their problem.

Q [From Asmara]: It's not a question of relaxing, it's a question of taking the initiative and responsibility for their own country's situation isn't it?

SRSG: Well, it doesn't mean that they are not taking any initiative. As you know, President Isaias has been writing letters to the world, and I'm sure the Prime Minister of Ethiopia has done the same, promoting the interests of Ethiopia. It is not possible that the two (leaders) faced with the kind of stalemate they are faced with, would just sit there and not communicate their feelings to the rest of the world! They are doing so, and they don't have to inform us when they are doing that.

Q [From Addis Ababa]: Ambassador Legwaila, are you saying that diplomacy has failed?

SRSG: I wouldn't say diplomacy has failed. I never said that and I'm not saying that. So far, diplomacy has not achieved the objective it seeks, but it doesn't mean that it has failed, because diplomacy continues. We are just talking about the visit of the Troika.

Q [From Asmara]: To come back to what you were saying about war - whenever we talk to Government officials here, they always tell us they're going to exhaust all the diplomatic possibilities to find a solution. But they always make it very clear that they are not ruling out war. Is that what they are telling you as well? Because it doesn't seem so from what you just said. That's what we are told very often so maybe it's a way to tell the media but...

SRSG: You know, my take has always been don't ask me to swear to the heavens that there will never be war between Ethiopia and Eritrea. Please don't ask me to say that because I would not be true to myself. I would not be true to my experience as a diplomat, if I were to swear to the heavens that Ethiopia and Eritrea eternally will never go to war over something. All I know is Article 1 of the Peace Agreement commits them, almost eternally, not to threaten or use force against each other. But, I am not going to say that will never happen, and I think anybody who asks me that question would be terribly unkind. Therefore what I am telling you is that so far they are telling you they are going to pursue diplomacy to find a solution to their problem. They are going to find a peaceful solution to their problem. And I don't ask them when they say that, "are you not likely to go to war in 2050?" No, that's not my business. My hope, and my fervent hope, I can say, is that these two countries will be able to solve the problem they have now and live in peace forever. That's my wish as a human being.

Q [From Asmara]: I was just reading from the Briefing Note that you've met with the Ambassadors of Algeria and the United States. Does it happen often because these are the 3 Guarantors of the peace process? How often does that happen?

SRSG: Every time I go to Addis Ababa, either they ask to see me or I ask to see them. Normally I would see three of them - the United States, the United Kingdom and Algeria - because they are friends. I normally see all the Guarantors, which would include the AU. Unfortunately, the Commissioner wasn't there, the Chairman, Professor Konare, so I wasn't able to see him - and the British have a new Ambassador. It's just an exchange of views just to find out what it is that we can advise our respective principals. Nothing unusual.

Spokeswoman: May I behalf on all the journalists both here in Asmara and Addis, thank the SRSG for being with us today. Thank you for coming, we'll see you again next week

For further enquires please contact:

Gail Bindley-Taylor-Sainte, Spokeswoman and Chief, Public Information Office
Or UNMEE Headquarters Asmara, telephone: 291-1-150411- extension 6017
or our tie-line in New York: 00-1-212-963-3779-Ext 6017
or George Somerwill, Deputy Chief, Public Information Office UNMEE Headquarters Addis Ababa, telephone: 251-1-726895 extension 7104; Mobile: 251 9 223031.

UNMEE Website: www.unmeeonline.org



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