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Friday, 21 December, 2001, 11:53 GMT
Eritrea, Ethiopia make border claims
Eritrean police overlook the border zone
Thousands were killed in the two-year war
The border commission charged with deciding on the border between Ethiopia and Eritrea is due to finish two weeks of hearings on Friday.

The border commission was established following the peace agreement between the two countries signed in Algiers in December 2000.

The permanent border still has to be decided

The commission at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Dutch capital, The Hague, is scheduled to deliver its findings in February 2002.

Both sides have agreed to keep their arguments confidential and the hearings are closed to the public.

It will then be up to the UN Cartographic Unit to demarcate the disputed border between the two countries.

Rising tension

Ethiopia and Eritrea, who went to war in May 1998, agreed in Algiers to respect the decisions of the commission.

The United Nations has sent a 4,200 strong force to monitor a 25km-wide security zone.

Eritrean policeman
Both sides have accused the other of massing troops in the border zone

Tension along the border has been rising ahead of the hearing, with Ethiopia claiming that 30,000 Eritrean troops have been moved into the area.

Eritrea has rejected the claim and has accused Ethiopia of reinforcing its presence in the area.

The BBC's Asmara reporter, Alex Last, who recently visited the buffer zone around New Serha, said that he could see no sign of a military build-up.

Ethiopian Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin said on Wednesday that Ethiopia expected the commission to come to its decision only on the basis of international laws and treaties as stated in the Algiers peace accord.

He said that Eritrea was basing its argument on maps that had been prepared by Italy, when Eritrea was its colony.

He said these maps "only reflects the unilateral interest of the colonial power and could not serve as an authorised international boundary".

See also:

14 Dec 01 | Africa
All quiet on Eritrea's frontline
02 Nov 01 | Africa
Eritrea critic denies conspiracy
08 Oct 01 | Africa
Eritrea denies preparing for war
21 Sep 01 | Africa
Concern over Eritrea detainees
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