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Tuesday, 10 December, 2002, 18:09 GMT
Eritrea offers military help to US
US Marines
US Marines are based off the Djibouti coast
The United States can have access to Eritrea's military bases as part of its war against terror, President Isaias Afewerki has said.

He made the offer to US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who began a four-nation tour of the Horn of Africa in the capital, Asmara.

President Isaias Afewerki
Afewerki is trying to mend fences with the US
Mr Rumsfeld did not say whether the US would take Eritrea up on its offer.

The US has more than 1,000 elite troops stationed on a warship off the coast of Djibouti, where Mr Rumsfeld is going on Wednesday, acting as its regional terror command centre.

But Mr Isaias' offer marks a change of tone in relations between Eritrea and the US.

In October, the US accused Eritrea of human rights abuses.

Eritrea responded by accusing the CIA of plotting against it.

Al-Qaeda link?

Mr Rumsfeld said he had also discussed the political situation with Eritrea's leader.

"We have very limited resources, but we are willing and prepared to use these resources in any way that is useful to combat terrorism," Mr Isaias said.

Last week, the leaders of Ethiopia and Kenya held talks with President George Bush in Washington on the regional security situation.

Relations between Eritrea and Ethiopia remain strained following the border war they fought in 1999-2000.

Mr Rumsfeld went to Addis Ababa after Asmara and is also due to visit the Gulf state of Qatar.

Eritrea's neighbours Somalia, Sudan and Yemen have all been seen as possible havens of the al-Qaeda network, which is accused of launching the attacks on Israelis in Kenya last month.

Ethiopia accuses the Transitional National Government in Somalia of having links to Islamic extremists - an accusation it denies.


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21 Oct 02 | Africa
06 Dec 02 | Africa
08 Nov 02 | Africa
25 Jul 02 | Country profiles
21 Nov 02 | Africa
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