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Last Updated: Wednesday, 31 December, 2003, 09:18 GMT
Eritrea denies 'trouble-making'
By Jonah Fisher
BBC, Asmara

Eritrea has hit back at its neighbours, saying Ethiopia, not it, is destabilising the Horn of Africa.

"Totally baseless" is how presidential spokesman Yemane Gebremeskel described Sudan's statement that Eritrea was backing rebels in Darfur province.

"Sudan's problems arose because it was engaged in exporting fundamentalism to the region," he said.

On Monday, the leaders of Sudan, Yemen and Ethiopia accused Eritrea of stirring up instability in the region.

'Tiny state'

In the 12 years since independence, Eritrea has made few friends in the region.

A dispute with Yemen over the Hanish islands in the Red Sea islands went to international arbitration, a bloody border war with Ethiopia left tens of thousands dead and both Eritrea and Sudan accuse the other of supporting rebels within their borders.

Badme village
Dusty Badme spawned the Ethiopia-Eritrea war
"Ethiopia, not us, is the problem in the region," the Eritrean spokesman said.

"It's creating problems in Somalia and is not accepting international law in relation to Eritrea. The facts speak for themselves."

Tensions between the two countries have been rising since Ethiopia rejected the ruling of an international court that the symbolic village of Badme, where their border war started, belongs to Eritrea.

The tripartite alliance of Eritrea's neighbours met in Addis Ababa this week and each of the three leaders criticised the Asmara government as a problem nation creating instability.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi denied that the summit was a coalition aimed against Eritrea, saying it was a "tiny state" which any of the alliance members could deal with individually.


SEE ALSO:
Eritrea 'region's trouble-maker'
29 Dec 03  |  Africa
Horn 'anti-terror alliance'
13 Jan 03  |  Africa
Horn move to ease border tension
19 Dec 03  |  Africa
Country profile: Eritrea
10 Oct 03  |  Country profiles


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