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UN Secretary-General Advises UN Troops to Extend Mission in Ethiopia, Eritrea

28 September 2006

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan is urging the Security Council to extend a U.N. mission monitoring the tense border between Ethiopia and Eritrea, warning of potential disaster if their conflict is not resolved.

The acting U.N. envoy to Ethiopia and Eritrea, Azouz Ennifar, delivered Mr. Annan's recommendations to the Council Wednesday. The secretary-general says the U.N. mission should stay on for six months after its mandate expires Friday.

Mr. Annan says he is deeply concerned about the stalemate in the countries' peace process, saying it could lead to disastrous consequences for the nations and the region.

Eritrea gained independence from Ethiopia in 1993 after three decades of guerrilla war. They continued fighting over their border from 1998 to 2000, killing 70,000 people. An international commission drew a tentative boundary, but Ethiopia has refused to implement the deal.

Diplomats from the countries used a U.N. General Assembly session this week to blame each other for the stalled peace process.

Speaking to the U.N. in New York Wednesday, Ethiopian envoy Negash Kebret said Eritrea was committed to prolonging the border conflict.

But, at the U.N. two days earlier, Eritrean Health Minister Saleh Meky accused the United States of helping Ethiopia violate the peace accord between the East African neighbors.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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