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DATE=4/14/99 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT NUMBER=2-248055 TITLE=ETHIOPIA / ERITREA CEASEFIRE (L) BYLINE=SCOTT STEARNS DATELINE=ADDIS ABABA CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: ETHIOPIA SAYS IT IS POSSIBLE TO HAVE A CEASEFIRE IN THE WAR WITH ERITREA BEFORE ERITREAN TROOPS PHYSICALLY WITHDRAW FROM DISPUTED AREAS. V-O-A'S SCOTT STEARNS REPORTS ETHIOPIA'S PRIME MINISTER SAYS IT IS ALL PART OF A PACKAGE DEAL FOR PEACE. TEXT: ONE OF THE BIGGEST PROBLEMS IN THIS BORDER WAR IS AGREEING ON HOW TO SEPARATE THE FIGHTERS. ERITREA WANTS A SIMULTANEOUS TROOP WITHDRAWAL SO NEITHER SIDE IS CAPABLE OF ATTACKING THE OTHER. ETHIOPIA SAYS ERITREA MUST FIRST PULL OUT OF AREAS THAT WERE ADMINISTERED BY ETHIOPIA BEFORE FIGHTING BEGAN LAST YEAR. RECOGNIZING ERITREA'S CONCERNS ABOUT THE TIMING OF A WITHDRAWAL, ETHIOPIAN PRIME MINISTER MELES ZENAWI SAYS IT IS NOW POSSIBLE TO HAVE A CEASEFIRE FIRST AS LONG AS ERITREA COMMITS ITSELF TO PULLING BACK. /// MELES ACT ONE /// IF THE ERITREANS WERE TO SIGN ON THE DOTTED LINE OF A PACKAGE THAT VERY CLEARLY INDICATED THAT THEY WOULD WITHDRAW FROM OUR TERRITORIES IN A CERTAIN SPECIFIC TIME AS SOON AS THEY SIGN ON THAT PACKAGE, ON THAT DOTTED LINE, THERE IS A CEASEFIRE AS FAR AS WE ARE CONCERNED. /// END ACT /// IN AN INTERVIEW WITH V-O-A, PRIME MINISTER MELES SAID IF ERITREA PROMISES TO WITHDRAW, ETHIOPIA IS WILLING TO STOP FIGHTING WHILE TROOPS ARE STILL AT THE BORDER. I// MELES ACT TWO /// WE ARE NOT SAYING THEY HAVE TO WITHDRAW FIRST BEFORE THERE IS A CEASEFIRE. THAT WAS NOT IN THE DEAL. I MEAN, THEY CANNOT WITHDRAW WITHOUT A CEASEFIRE. HOW DO YOU IMPLEMENT THAT? IT'S PHYSICALLY IMPOSSIBLE TO IMPLEMENT THAT. BUT YOU HAVE A PACKAGE WHICH INCLUDES A CEASEFIRE, WHICH INCLUDES AN AGREEMENT ON THE PART OF ERITREANS TO WITHDRAW FROM ALL OUR TERRITORIES. /// END ACT /// ETHIOPIA AND ERITREA HAVE BOTH ACCEPTED AN ORGANIZATION OF AFRICAN UNITY PLAN TO ARBITRATE THE DISPUTE. THAT DEAL CALLS ON BOTH COUNTRIES TO PULL BACK THEIR TROOPS WITH INTERNATIONAL MONITORS CONTROLLING DISPUTED AREAS WHILE A BORDER COMMISSION DRAWS UP A NEW BORDER MAP. PRIME MINISTER MELES SAYS ONCE ERITREANS AGREE TO LEAVE ETHIOPIAN TERRITORY, THAT PLAN CAN MOVE AHEAD. I// MELES ACT THREE /// THE ERITREANS HAVE TO ACCEPT THAT THEY HAVE TO WITHDRAW FROM THE TERRITORIES THAT THEY OCCUPIED AFTER MAY SIXTH. WE NAVE ALL AGREED THAT AFTER THAT, THE BORDER ISSUE WOULD BE DELINEATED AND DEMARCATED ON THE BASIS OF COLONIAL TREATIES, SO THAT IS AGREED. THAT THERE WOULD BE SEPARATION OF FORCES, THAT IS AGREED. ALL THINGS ARE AGREED, EXCEPT ONE. /// END ACT /// THAT IS A BIG "ONE." ERITREAN PRESIDENT ISAYAS AFEWORKI SAYS ETHIOPIA IS THE AGGRESSOR HERE, THAT ETHIOPIA IS TRYING TO ANNEX ERITREAN TERRITORY BY PUSHING NORTHWEST INTO THE BADAME PLAIN. NOW THAT HE HAS ACCEPTED THE O-A-U PLAN, PRESIDENT ISAYSAS SAYS IT IS TIME THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY HELPS PUSH IT FORWARD WITH A CEASEFIRE INSTEAD OF WAITING FOR MORE FIGHTING. /// OPT // ISAYAS ACT /// THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY HAS A RESPONSIBILITY IN THIS REGARD IN MY OPINION. WHAT EXACTLY CAN WE EXPECT FROM THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY? WE HAVE ACCEPTED THE FRAMEWORK. YOU HAVE BEEN INSISTING THAT WE ACCEPT THE FRAMEWORK. THERE ARE NO EXCUSES NOW FOR DELAYING THE IMPLEMENTATION. WHAT EXACTLY IS THE O-A-U DOING? THE O-A-U DOES NOT HAVE ANY EXCUSE TO DELAY. /// END ACT /// /// OPT /// PRESIDENT ISAYAS SAYS HE HAS COMPLIED WITH THE O-A-U FRAMEWORK AGREEMENT BY WITHDRAWING FROM THE BORDER TOWN OF BADAME. /// OPT // PRIME MINISTER MELES SAYS ERITREANS DID NOT LEAVE BADAME, THEY WERE FORCED OUT, AND THAT IS NOT ENOUGH. HE SAYS ERTIREANS MUST AGREE TO QUIT ALL OCCUPIED TERRITORIES, INCLUDING AREAS HUNDREDS OF KILOMETERS FARTHER EAST, BEFORE THE FIGHTING STOPS. /// OPT /// PRIME MINISTER MELES SAYS HE WILL AGREE TO A CEASEFIRE THAT ALLOWS ERITREA TO KEEP A PROMISE. HE WILL NOT AGREE TO A CEASEFIRE THAT GIVES ERITREA TIME TO MAKE ANOTHER DEAL. /// OPT // MELES ACT FOUR /// WHAT WE HAVE SAID NO TO IS A CEASEFIRE BEFORE THERE IS A PACKAGE DEAL. A CEASEFIRE IN THE CONTEXT OF A PACKAGE DEAL HAS ALWAYS BEEN PART OF THE PACKAGE FROM DAY ONE. THE NEW PROPOSAL OF CEASEFIRE THAT IS COMING FROM SOME QUARTERS IS, THEY ARE SAYING, O-K, YOU HAVE NOT RESOLVED THE ISSUE. YOU NEED TO SIT AND TALK. FOR THAT TO HAPPEN YOU NEED TO HAVE A CEASEFIRE. THAT IS WHAT WE DO NOT ACCEPT. /// END ACT // END OPT /// MILITARY OBSERVERS ESTIMATE AT LEAST 40-THOUSAND PEOPLE HAVE DIED IN THE PAST YEAR OF FIGHTING. MORE THAN 300-THOUSAND TROOPS ARE DUG-IN ALONG THE ROCKY BORDER, MOST NOW MASSED AROUND THE BORDER TOWN OF BADAME. (SIGNED) NEB/SKS/JWH/PLM 14-Apr-99 5:47 AM EDT (0947 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .





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