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Last Updated: Tuesday, 29 November 2005, 17:55 GMT
Running for Horn of Africa peace
Ethiopia's Haile Gebrselassie
Haile Gebrselassie has expressed interest in the peace race
A diplomat in Ethiopia is trying to organise a peace run to ease growing tension along the disputed border territory between Ethiopia and Eritrea.

EU envoy Tim Clarke said he wanted athletes from both countries to take part and meet on a border bridge.

Ethiopian running legend and Olympic champion Haile Gebrselassie has already said he will participate in it.

Meanwhile, four Ethiopian soldiers have died after their vehicle hit a newly laid landmine near the disputed border.

United Nations spokesman Phil Lewis says the incident occurred last week on the road between Sembel and Badme, which is used by the Ethiopian military and United Nations peacekeepers monitoring a buffer zone along the border.

This news comes as Ethiopia and Eritrea have renewed diplomatic skirmishing over the border situation, with each accusing the other of risking a further war.

'Opportunity'

The race proposal was still a "germ of an idea", Mr Clarke said, but he was encouraged by talks he had had with other diplomats and Ethiopia's minister of foreign affairs.

Any idea to break the tension is worth pursuing
Tim Clarke
European Union envoy

"It'd be good for the athletes to show leadership," Mr Clarke told the BBC News website.

He said that he was contacting his Eritrean counterpart to see if he could drum up interest there.

A colleague had organised a similar race between the Bosnians and Serbs, he said, and he felt it be an would interesting opportunity to try between Ethiopians and Eritreans.

"Any idea to break the tension is worth pursuing," he said.

Ethiopia and Eritrea were at war from 1998 to 2000, leading to the loss of tens of thousands of lives.

A peace agreement led to a ruling on the border by an independent commission, but Ethiopia has not yet withdrawn its forces from the town of Badme, which was awarded to Eritrea.

In the past few months Eritrea has imposed restrictions on the activities of the UN peacekeeping force.

Earlier this month Ethiopia and Eritrea reinforced their military positions along their common border, when the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, warned of the possibility of renewed conflict.





SEE ALSO:
Building bridges in the Horn
10 Jul 01 |  Africa
New war fears in Horn of Africa
03 Nov 05 |  Africa
Eritrea limits UN night patrols
14 Oct 05 |  Africa
Q&A: Horn's bitter border war
25 Nov 04 |  Africa


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