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Concerned at growing Ethiopia-Eritrea tensions, Security Council urges restraint

8 May 2007 Voicing concern over increased friction between Ethiopia and Eritrea, which have hit a stalemate in efforts to resolve their border dispute, the United Nations Security Council today called on both Horn of Africa countries to refrain from violence.

“Members of the Security Council remain deeply concerned by the impasse in the Eritrea-Ethiopia peace process and by the growing tension between the two countries,” United States Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, the Council President for the month of May, said in a press statement.

Council members “reiterate their call on both parties to show maximum restraint and to refrain from hostile public statements and from any threat or use of force against each other,” the President said.

He reaffirmed the integrity of the Temporary Security Zone (TSZ), where the UN has deployed a peacekeeping mission known as UNMEE, and urged both parties to immediately withdraw their troops and equipment from positions in the area.

Council members are “encouraged” by the Ethiopian Prime Minister’s recent statement that Government had accepted the final and binding decision of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission, Ambassador Khalilzad said, demanding that Ethiopia carry this out without delay.

Ethiopia has not accepted the binding border delineated in 2002 by the Boundary Commission which awarded Badme, the town that triggered the fierce fighting from 1998 to 2000, to Eritrea.

Underlining their support for UNMEE, Council members also repeated their demand that Eritrea reverse, without delay or preconditions, all restrictions on the mission’s movement and operations.

They called on parties “to fully cooperate with UNMEE with a view to resuming the meetings of the Military Coordination Commission,” a body chaired by the UN which brings together both sides.

The statement also reaffirmed the Council’s “unwavering commitment to the peace process,” including action the boundary decision. It called on both parties “to request and enable the Boundary Commission to proceed with the complete and prompt demarcation of the border.”

Today’s press statement by the Council echoed views expressed by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who in his latest report on Ethiopia and Eritrea warned that the impasse “continues to be serious source of instability for the two countries, as well as for the wider region.”

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