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ERITREA-SUDAN: Khartoum knows its claims are baseless, Asmara says

NAIROBI, 7 January 2004 (IRIN) - Eritrea has again denied arming Sudanese rebels in the Darfur region, describing Khartoum's allegations as baseless.

On Monday, Sudan's Foreign Minister Mustafa Ismail lodged a complaint with the UN Security Council claiming Khartoum had evidence that Asmara was supporting anti-government rebels in the western Darfur region.

"These allegations are baseless and Sudan knows they are baseless," Eritrea's acting Information Minister Ali Abdu Ahmed told IRIN. "We are very surprised to hear these kinds of allegations."

He said such accusations were Sudan's "habitual way" of "finding scapegoats for its failures". "They should find their own cure instead of blaming others," Ali Abdu added.

Relations between Eritrea and Sudan are tense, with each accusing the other of supporting its rebels. The common border is currently closed.

Ali Abdu said Eritrea supported the Sudan peace process and would "continue to play a constructive role in finding a solution to the Sudanese problem".

"A comprehensive political solution is a good factor for stability in the region," he pointed out.

Sudan's ongoing peace process with the main rebel group, the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), has been yielding fruit, with both sides due to sign an agreement on Wednesday on sharing the country's wealth.

But violence is continuing in the strife-torn Darfur region where clashes between other rebel groups and Arab militias have killed thousands of civilians, and resulted in hundreds of thousands of displaced people and refugees.

According to Sudanese television, the Sudanese government has vowed to crush the Darfur rebellion which it views as a security threat.

Theme(s): (IRIN) Conflict

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