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The BBC's Martin Dawes
"Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced"
 real 28k

The BBC's Mark Devenport at the UN in New York
"On the ground, UN staff are witnessing the suffering caused to civilians by the continued fighting"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 31 May, 2000, 11:23 GMT 12:23 UK
Ethiopia spurns UN appeal
Woman leaving Adi Keih
Thousands of Eritreans are fleeing the fighting in border areas
The Ethiopian Government has rejected calls to cease hostilities in its border war with Eritrea, saying it will not abandon its campaign until it has met all its military objectives.

On Tuesday the United Nations Security Council and the United States called on Ethiopia to end its offensive, with the US saying that Eritrea had withdrawn from all the disputed areas.



Nobody should be telling us what to do

Ethiopian Government spokeswoman Salome Tadesse

Ethiopia says it has not confirmed that Eritrean forces have withdrawn from Badda in the east.

Eritrea says that Ethiopian troops are still inside western Eritrea - contrary to an announcement by Ethiopia on Tuesday that they had withdrawn.

An Eritrean Government spokesman said that Ethiopian troops in the west were looting in areas where they were not under pressure from Eritrean forces.

Representatives of the two countries are taking part in a second day of peace talks as efforts to end the two-year conflict continue.

Eritrean artillery firing
Eritrean artillery firing at Ethiopian forces on Tuesday

Chinese ambassador Wang Yingfan, who is presiding over the UN Security Council this month, welcomed the resumption of proximity talks and said the council fully supported efforts by the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) to find a peaceful solution to the conflict.

Ethiopia's Foreign Ministry also says that Eritrea is making efforts to regroup its army in order to make a military comeback . It warned that any such attempt would be strongly rebuffed.

It denies reports of any fighting on Tuesday despite reports of further clashes around Senafe and artillery exchanges 100 km (60 miles) south of the Eritrean capital, Asmara, near the town of Adi Keih.

Ethiopia announced it had taken the town of Senafe, further south, last Thursday.

Troops in west

Thousands of refugees have been streaming out of western Eritrea into Sudan to escape the fighting.

Ethiopia announced on Tuesday it had withdrawn troops deployed in south-west Eritrea, when fighting flared up earlier this month.


Eritrean Government spokesman Yemane Gebremeskel said that Ethiopian troops were in the town of Tessanay, close to the border with Sudan.

It is not possible to verify independently where exactly the Ethiopian troops are, but, having got well into western Eritrea, it could take some time for them to get out.

The United Nations relief organisation, the UNHCR, says that some 10,000 people displaced from the Tessenay district crossed over the border into Sudan earlier this week.

They have been travelling on foot, by donkey or tractor and some of them had spoken of Ethiopian troops arriving in Tessanay.

Relief workers say up to 40,000 people from the western region have crossed into Sudan since the start of the Ethiopian offensive.

Verification

Ethiopian Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin has said some provisions of the peace plan put forward by the OAU have been made redundant by the military situation.

Ethiopia's FM Seyoum Mesfin (left) greeted at Algiers
Ethiopia's FM Seyoum Mesfin (left): Peace plan changed by situation on ground
"We will see how the OAU peace plan can be adapted to the reality on the ground," Mr Seyoum said after a day of closed-door talks in Algiers.

But Mr Yemane said it would be outrageous if Ethiopia thought it should be rewarded for their invasion.

"If they are throwing away this peace plan endorsed by the international community then that means more war," he warned.

Both Mr Seyoum and his Eritrean counterpart, Haile Woldensae, have said they are prepared to seek peace, but they are not scheduled to meet face-to-face.

Algerian Justice Minister Ahmed Ouyahia is serving as the main mediator at the talks, at which US mediators and a European Union delegation are also present.

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See also:

29 May 00 | Africa
Ethiopia hits Asmara airport
25 May 00 | Africa
Peace at last?
26 May 00 | Africa
Neighbours lament Horn war
28 May 00 | Media reports
Ethiopian president hails victories
12 May 00 | Battle in the Horn
Border a geographer's nightmare
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