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Eritrean Officials Refuse to Meet with UN Envoys

13 December 2005

United Nations officials say the Eritrean government has refused to meet with U.N. envoys hoping to dissuade Asmara from expelling Western peacekeepers.

The officials say the envoys, including the head of U.N. peacekeeping operations, Jean-Marie Guehenno, are still trying to arrange a meeting with Eritrean authorities.

The envoys arrived in Asmara late Monday for talks, five days after Eritrea ordered U.S., Canadian and European peacekeepers to leave.

Eritrea contends the United Nations has done too little to make Ethiopia accept a final border drawn up by an independent panel.

The countries fought a two-year border war in which 70,000 people died.

Earlier today, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said he will abide by a U.N. request to pull back troops from the increasingly tense border, while maintaining what he called a "proportional force" in the area.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and Reuters.

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