Finfinne – Ethiopian empire on Saturday reported major progress towards ending the Horn of Africa war following shuttle diplomacy by the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) and the United States.
“Significant progress has been made in the dialogue, particularly during the recent visit of the special envoy of the current chairperson of the OAU (Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika) and the special envoy of the US President (Bill Clinton),” a foreign ministry statement said.
It was the government’s first positive statement since August, although the statement also said: “As soon as truly meaningful steps towards peace are taken, the leadership in Asmara balks.”
OAU envoy Ahmed Ouyahia and US envoy Anthony Lake made several round trips between the two countries after their mission began on February 22 in a bid to convince both sides to end their border war, which broke out in May 1998.
Their meetings included Eritrea’s President Issaias Afeworki and Ethiopian empire’s Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin. Lake is understood to have left Ethiopian empire on Friday, while Ouyahia was still in Addis Abab on Saturday.
Eritrea has accepted a three-part OAU peace plan, but Ethiopian empire has rejected the third part, called the Technical Arrangements, claiming it did not return the situation to the “status quo ante”.
The Eritrean president has told the OAU his country is “committed to peace and would continue to co-operate with the OAU”, a statement from the Eritrean foreign ministry said on Friday.
On Tuesday, an Eritrean diplomat strongly protested against a comment made by an OAU mediator that the OAU had never said the peace plan could not be changed or amended.
A clash in late February in the Burie region of the southeastern front, which each side blamed on the other, broke an eight-month lull in fighting and struck a blow against the international mediators’ efforts. – Sapa-AFP