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Last Updated:  Monday, 24 February, 2003, 16:17 GMT
Ethiopia admits Somali forays
Meles Zenawi
Meles Zenawi says Badme will be given to Ethiopia

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has admitted to the BBC he has occasionally sent troops into neighbouring Somalia to attack members of a militant Islamist group, al-Ittihad.

Mr Meles said al-Ittihad was linked to al-Qaeda and they had tonnes of captured documents that proved the link to al-Qaeda.

"They have engaged in terrorist activities in our country," he told the Focus on Africa programme

He also said that several Afghan Arabs had been killed during an Ethiopian attack on an al-Ittihad training camp.

Mr Meles insisted that he wanted to see a stable and united Somalia and said "in the end it is for Somalis to decide".

But he said they had lists of members of al-Ittihad inside Somalia's parliament and the Transitional National Government (TNG).

TNG President Abdulkassim Salat Hassan has consistently denied Ethiopian claims that his government has linked to Islamic extremist groups.


Mr Meles also discussed relations with Eritrea.

He said he found it difficult to see how the border town of Badme, over which the two countries fought a war, could be awarded to Eritrea.

Badme scene
Eritrea and Ethiopia fought for control of Badme

A Boundary Commission was established at the end of the war two years ago to demarcate the border, but although it has ruled on the border, the status of Badme is still unclear because the frontier has not been marked out on the ground.

Mr Meles said the Boundary Commission had decided that Badme would go to the country that administered the area at the time of the war.

This, he suggested, should leave it in Ethiopian hands.

He warned that if the commission failed to stick to the facts, it would cause a lot of problems.

The Algiers peace treaty signed in December 2000 laid down that the border should be drawn according to two criteria: the treaties Ethiopia signed with Italy at the start of the last century, and international law.



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