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DATE=4/14/99 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT NUMBER=2-248110 TITLE=ERITREAN REACT (L ONLY) BYLINE=CAROL PINEAU DATELINE=WASHINGTON CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: ERITREA'S AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED STATES HAS DISMISSED ETHIOPIA'S LATEST OFFER OF A CEASE-FIRE AND A TROOP WITHDRAWAL FROM THE DISPUTED AREA ALONG THE TWO COUNTRIES' BORDERS. CAROL PINEAU REPORTS FROM WASHINGTON. TEXT: THE CEASE-FIRE OFFER BY ETHIOPIAN PRIME MINISTER MELES ZENAWI, DISCLOSED IN A V-O-A INTERVIEW (WEDNESDAY) IN ADDIS ABABA, APPEARS TO SOFTEN ETHIOPIA'S POSITION ON THE DISPUTE WITH ERITREA. ETHIOPIA AND ERITREA BOTH HAVE ACCEPTED A PROPOSAL BY THE ORGANIZATION OF AFRICAN UNITY TO ARBITRATE THEIR TERRITORIAL DISPUTE. UNTIL NOW, ETHIOPIAN OFFICIALS HAVE BEEN SAYING THEY WOULD NOT AGREE TO A CEASE-FIRE UNTIL ALL ERITREAN TROOPS LEAVE THE DISPUTED TERRITORY. NOW, PRIME MINISTER MELES SAYS ETHIOPIA IS WILLING TO STOP FIGHTING AS SOON AS ERITREA COMMITS ITSELF TO A SCHEDULE OF TROOP WITHDRAWALS. HOWEVER, ERITREA'S AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED STATES, SEMERE RUSSOM, SAYS THIS DOES NOT ADDRESS HIS COUNTRY'S PRIME OBJECTIVE -- THE WITHDRAWAL OF ETHIOPIAN AS WELL AS ERITREAN TROOPS. HE IS DISMISSING PRIME MINISTER MELES'S COMMENTS AS A PUBLIC RELATIONS PLOY. /// FIRST SEMERE ACT /// WHAT THE PRIME MINISTER SAID AS REPORTED BY V-O-A IS THE SAME PRECONDITION IN A NEW COVER. THEREFORE INSTEAD OF GOING AROUND THE BUSH [NOT SPEAKING DIRECTLY], WHY DOESN'T THE ETHIOPIAN GOVERNMENT STOP THE WAR, IMPLEMENT A CEASE-FIRE AND SIT ON THE TABLE [BEGIN NEGOTIATIONS] TO IMPLEMENT THE O-A-U FRAMEWORK FOR PEACE AGREEMENT. IT WAS TALKING LOUDLY FOR 10 MONTHS ABOUT ITS ACCEPTANCE OF THE FRAMEWORK AGREEMENT, AND NOW IT IS TRYING TO RUN AWAY FROM IT. /// END ACT /// AMBASSADOR SEMERE SAYS HIS COUNTRY IS COMMITTED TO PEACE. HE SAYS ETHIOPIA IS WRONG TO TRY TO ADD MORE CONDITIONS TO THE O-A-U FRAMEWORK. /// OPT SECOND SEMERE ACT /// THE FACT THAT WE HAVE HAD A CEASE-FIRE FROM AN ETHIOPIAN PRIME MINISTER FOR THE FIRST TIME, IT CAN BE TAKEN AS GOOD NEWS. BUT THE CONDITION THAT IS PUT BEFORE IT BECOMES AN OBSTACLE TO ITS IMPLEMENTATION. WHY PUT A PRE-CONDITION BEFORE THE O-A-U FRAMEWORK AGREEMENT? /// END ACT /// /// END OPT /// SOME 300-THOUSAND ETHIOPIAN AND ERITREAN TROOPS FACE EACH OTHER ACROSS THEIR ONE-THOUSAND-KILOMETER-LONG BORDER IN WHAT MILITARY EXPERTS SAY COULD BECOME AFRICA'S MOST DEADLY BORDER CONFLICT. (SIGNED) NEB/CP/WTW 14-Apr-99 8:37 PM EDT (0037 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .





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