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Saturday, June 6, 1998 Published at 16:56 GMT 17:56 UK

World: Africa

Eritrea: 'Ethiopia pursues total war'

A government statement broadcast on Eritrean radio on Friday night accused Ethiopia of pursuing a policy of "total war", despite international efforts to settle the border dispute between the two countries.

The following is the full text of the statement:

In accordance with the statement issued on 14th May 1998 by the Eritrean cabinet ministers, a process of peace initiative has been going on with the Eritrean Government's initiative and the US-Rwandan Governments, the chairmen of IGAD [Inter-Governmental Authority on Development], the Organisation of the Sahel-Sahara Countries and the OAU secretary general have played a constructive role.

Many other African and world leaders have also been supportive in resolving the dispute peacefully.

The government of Eritrea has been making continuous efforts to create a conducive foundation to avoid the situation from degenerating into an unnecessary war.

Based on this and on the statement issued by the cabinet ministers, the government of Eritrea has been continuously calling on the following proposals:

1. The realisation and acceptance of colonial boundaries.

2. The demarcation and making clear of colonial boundaries with the involvement of the UN maps' inspectors.

3. Demilitarisation of the area under the observation of a third party accepted by the two parties.

In addition, the government of Eritrea has suggested that the question of civil administration of the area to be demilitarised during the transition period can be held with flexibility.

A statement that embraces the four points is capable of answering the basic issues which the Eritrean government has been proposing.

Accordingly, since the facilitation process is not over, the government of Eritrea believes that there is need to work on the details of issues, and the implementation of solutions which should be looked at in the future.

Although the facilitation process was over and the Ethiopian Government had said that it accepted the proposals, it is still sticking to the idea of a total war.

The Ethiopian Government has instructed its military to take all the necessary steps in foiling the attack that it called Eritrean invasion and it has ordered the closure of all Eritrean consulates and the reduction of the number of staff in the Eritrean embassy in Addis Ababa to three.

The Eritrean Government reaffirms its promises of resolving the dispute peacefully, but will never accept any force or intimidation.

And if it is forced, it will strongly defend in protecting its right of living in peace and independence, which was achieved through many sacrifices.

The action taken by Ethiopia using force has not been fruitful and it should realise that even in the future will never bear any fruit.

Government of Eritrea, Asmara, June 5, 1998.

BBC Monitoring (, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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