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The BBC's Jim Fish
"Both leaders paid tribute to the diplomatic efforts and looked forward to a better future"
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Horn of Africa expert, Patrick Gilkes
"Making peace is one thing, reconciliation is quite another"
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Tuesday, 12 December, 2000, 22:24 GMT
Horn peace deal signed
Isaias Afwerki, Kofi Annan, Madeleine Albright, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, Meles Zenawi
The culmination of lengthy diplomatic efforts
Ethiopia and Eritrea have signed a peace agreement ending a bloody border conflict lasting more that two years and claiming tens of thousands of lives.

It is a positive story for Africa which ends the year with a story of peace

Kofi Annan
Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki signed the accord in the Algerian capital, Algiers, before a crowd of applauding diplomats.

A ceasefire in June was brokered by the Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, the current chairman of the Organization for African Unity, with the support of the United States and the United Nations.

Since then there has been no fighting.

The UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, the American Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, and the leaders of Nigeria and Togo were in Algiers to witness the agreement.

The peace agreement establishes commissions to mark the border, exchange prisoners, return displaced people and hear compensation claims.

Mr Annan hailed the peace deal saying: "It is a positive story for Africa which ends the year with a story of peace."

Eritrea was a province of Ethiopia, its much larger neighbour to the south, before winning its independence in a 1993 referendum.

Suspicion remains

Earlier, Eritrean Foreign Minister Ali Sayyid Abdallah said that the agreement was more "comprehensive, better and clearer than previous documents".

Ethiopian child
The war excarcerbated a humanitarian crisis
But he warned Eritreans against complacency, saying that the Ethiopian administration should not be trusted, and had in the past evaded its commitment to "agreements it signed before the ink was dry".

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has said he is "confident and optimistic" of the prospects for peace.

But he also said that even with the peace agreement, Ethiopia will not establish good relations with Eritrea until the Asmara administration is replaced by what he termed as a responsible government.

Path to peace

The final deal is meant to ensure hostilities do not resume after the eventual departure of more than 4,000 UN peacekeepers who are currently being deployed.

UN Dutch troops on their way from Massawa port to Asmara
More than 4,000 UN troops will monitor the peace deal
ON the key border issue, a commission will demarcate the disputed 620km border between the two countries.

The body will be composed of five members - two from each country and an independent chairman.

Both parties will then submit their territorial claims to a legal arbitration body and disputes will be settled through a UN cartographic unit.

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See also:

04 Dec 00 | Africa
Eritrea: Final deal with Ethiopia
30 Oct 00 | Africa
Eritrea confronts the future
24 Oct 00 | Africa
Horn of Africa appeal
28 Sep 00 | Africa
UN monitors optimistic on border
11 Dec 00 | Africa
Horn peace deal: Full text
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