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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 12 March, 2003, 10:03 GMT
Ethiopia insists on border changes
Badme village
Dusty Badme spawned the Ethiopia-Eritrea war

Ethiopia has defended its right to challenge a United Nations ruling on its disputed border with Eritrea.

Ethiopia's state minister for foreign affairs, Tekeda Alemu, told the BBC's Network Africa programme that the International Boundary Commission, which ruled on the border last year, had promised that the demarcations could be refined.

The commission was set up to rule on a border dispute which led to a two-and-a-half year war and the loss of thousands of lives.

The commission criticised Ethiopia earlier this week for seeking to change the border ruling after agreeing to accept it as final.

Living in limbo

Mr Tekeda said he was "disappointed and saddened" by this criticism because Ethiopia "was not trying to reopen the substance of the matter".

But he insisted that the town of Badme, which was the key prize in the war must remain Ethiopian.

"I would find it absolutely difficult to believe that any person in his right mind would put Badme in Eritrea," he said.

The commission defined the border last year but it is still not clear which country was given the symbolic town of Badme, which sparked the war.

Both sides claimed it after the commission's ruling but the town was not marked on the commission's map.

Residents of the town are waiting for the physical demarcation of the border with pillars to know which country they will live in.

Both Ethiopia and Eritrea agreed to abide by the Hague-based Boundary Commission's demarcation of the border when they signed the Algiers peace agreement in December 2000 ending a bitter war.

Tekeda Alemu on BBC Network Africa
"We were told that the... decisions were provisional"

Eritrea-Ethiopia border defined
13 Apr 02 |  Africa
Border a geographer's nightmare
12 May 00 |  Africa
Q&A: The Horn's bitter war
12 Apr 02 |  Africa

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