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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 November 2006, 15:55 GMT
Horn border foes given one year
By Jack Kimball
BBC, Asmara

Dusty Badme was at the centre of the border dispute
An independent boundary commission has given Eritrea and Ethiopia a year to physically demarcate the shared border or having it set for them.

Ethiopia and Eritrea fought a border war between 1998-2000 in which more than 70,000 people were killed.

Under the peace deal, both countries agreed to a final and binding decision demarcating their shared border.

But the process ground to a halt after Ethiopia rejected the 2002 decision giving the town of Badme to Eritrea.

The Hague-based commission met last week to discuss the four-year impasse between Eritrea and Ethiopia over their shared border. Both countries refused to go.

The commission said in a statement that because of the continuing frustration of the demarcation process, it had decided to use high-resolution digital photography and image processing to mark the 1,000-km boundary.

Dec 2000: Peace agreement
Apr 2002: Border ruling
Mar 2003: Ethiopian complaint over Badme rejected
Sep 2003: Ethiopia asks for new ruling
Feb 2005: UN concern at military build-up
Oct 2005: Eritrea restricts peacekeepers' activities
Nov 2005: UN sanctions threat if no compliance with 2000 deal

It gave both countries until November 2007 to reach a deal to erect pillars indicating the boundary.

If Eritrea and Ethiopia fail to do this, the commission says that the boundary as it has marked it would automatically stand.

Ethiopia had rejected the commission's plans as "illegal".

Eritrea said the commission should deal with Addis Ababa's rejection of the 2002 decision.

For its part, the commission's 12-page statement listed a litany of obstacles put forth by both countries while it tried to carry out its work.

Meanwhile, analysts fear that unrest in Somalia could spark a regional war sucking in both Ethiopia and Eritrea, who stand accused of supporting differing sides in the brewing conflict.

Asmara and Addis Ababa both deny sending arms and soldiers to Somalia.



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