Eritrea says official will meet UN peace envoy
Fri June 18, 2004 4:34 PM GMT+02:00
(Reuters) - An Eritrean official and U.N. special envoy Lloyd Axworthy will
hold an exploratory meeting to discuss the world body's efforts to resolve a
border dispute with former foe Ethiopia, an Eritrean spokesman said on Friday.
will be an exploratory meeting... we will send an envoy," presidential spokesman
Yemane Gebremeskel told Reuters by telephone from Asmara, adding the place and
time had yet to be worked out.
diplomatic process is under way," he said, adding without elaborating that
Eritrea was seeking clarification of Axworthy's mandate.
for comment on the planned meeting, a U.N. official in Asmara referred media
queries to the U.N. Department of Political Affairs in New York.
six months ago to mediate over the 1,000-km (600-mile) border between the two
Horn of Africa countries, Axworthy received a warm welcome in Ethiopia from
Prime Minister Meles Zenawi in February but was refused entry to Eritrea.
in February described the appointment of the former Canadian foreign minister
as illegal and a bid to appease its larger neighbour, with whom it fought a
bloody 1998-2000 war.
two-year conflict killed an estimated 70,000 people in combat that often
recalled the trench warfare of World War One.
peace process has been stalled since Ethiopia refused to accept the ruling of
independent boundary commission over where the disputed border should lie.
April Eritrea said it was willing to meet Axworthy as long as he did not try to
change the commission's decision, adding it wanted an assurance that Axworthy
would speed up the border demarcation.
on Friday dismissed remarks by a diplomat quoted by Reuters on Thursday that
Eritrea in effect was snubbing Axworthy by sending an envoy to talk to him,
rather than holding a formal meeting with him as a government.
is not a snub. To interpret this as a snub is wrong and is
disinformation," Gebremeskel said.