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The BBC's Martin Plaut
"The decision to sign a peace agreement is an enormous step forward"
 real 28k

The BBC's Alex Last
"Eritreans in general are very pleased and relieved that, at last, an end is in sight"
 real 28k

Monday, 4 December, 2000, 14:53 GMT
Eritrea: Final deal with Ethiopia
Algerian President Bouteflika poses with signatories of peace deal in June
Intense negotiations followed the initial peace deal in June
The government of Eritrea says it has agreed with Ethiopia on a final peace treaty to end their two-year border war, in which tens of thousands of people have been killed.

Eritrea says the agreement, which was brokered by the United States and the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), will be signed in Algiers on 12 December by the heads of state of the two countries.

The Eritreans say that among the provisions are the establishment of a border commission and the release and exchange of thousands of prisoners held by the two countries.

A source in the Ethiopian foreign ministry confirmed to the BBC that both sides had accepted the deal in principle but said it has to go to the Ethiopian parliament for ratification.

The two sides signed a ceasefire in June after Ethiopia had made considerable gains along the disputed border.

The United Nations secretary-general, Kofi Annan, is due in the two capitals, Addis Ababa and Asmara, this week on a previously scheduled visit.

Border commission

The agreement establishes a neutral commission to demarcate the disputed border between the two countries.

The war wrecked thousands of lives
There will be two members from each country with an independent chairman.

Both sides will submit claims to the UN cartographic unit and the commission will also take into account legal arguments.

The demarcation process will take up to six months to complete.

A 4,200-strong UN force is being deployed along the border to supervise the ceasefire.

Compensation, repatriation

Thousands of prisoners of war and other security detainees should be released and exchanged immediately under the terms of the agreement.

The deal also includes provision for compensation for damaged or confiscated property.

The deal comes after four months of intensive international mediation efforts with diplomats shuttling between Addis Ababa and Asmara.

The talks, mediated by the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in Algiers, were aimed at turning June's cease-fire agreement into a more comprehensive peace accord.

Each side accused the other of intransigence and putting obstacles in the way of the peace process.

The two countries signed a "cessation of hostilities" in June which included undertakings to work towards a permanent ceasefire and a full peace accord.

In May Ethiopia had launched a major offensive into Eritrea as part of a long-running border dispute.

Tens of thousands of people, most of them soldiers from both sides, were killed in the war and more than 1.2 million people have been displaced.

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See also:

30 Oct 00 | Africa
Eritrea confronts the future
24 Oct 00 | Africa
Horn of Africa appeal
24 Oct 00 | Africa
Horn peace talks resume
28 Sep 00 | Africa
UN monitors optimistic on border
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