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Friday, 30 June, 2000, 12:40 GMT 13:40 UK
Eritrea, Ethiopia to resume talks
Ethiopian soldiers
Peace has held since the ceasefire deal was signed in June

The American state department says Ethiopia and Eritrea are to hold talks in Washington on Monday on outstanding issues following their agreement earlier this month to end hostilities.

A spokesman Philip Reeker said experts from the two countries and international organisations would focus on technical issues which were not dealt with by the peace accord signed in Algeria on 18 June.

The talks will be attended by the US special envoy Anthony Lake, who previously took part in talks between the sides.

The accord officially ended the two-year war which killed tens of thousands of people and displaced more than a million.

It allows for the deployment of a UN peacekeeping force in a buffer zone which will extend along the border 25km into Eritrea.

Ceasefire agreement
Calls for end to hostilities
25 km buffer zone inside Eritrean territory
About 2,000 UN peacekeepers to be deployed
Ethiopian troops to return to pre-war positions within two weeks of UN deployment

It also calls for the withdrawal of Ethiopian troops from areas inside Eritrea beyond the disputed border region.

According to Eritrean sources in the United States, the Eritrean foreign minister should already have arrived.

The ceasefire deal was brokered by the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) with the support of the United Nations but no formal progress has been made on the question of which countries might contribute troops to the UN peacekeeping force.

A number of other outstanding issues are also on the agenda including questions over the demarcation of the border and compensation for damages incurred during the conflict in which tens of thousands of soldiers died and more than a million civilians were displaced.

Both Eritrea and Ethiopia are understood to have formally written to the UN asking for peacekeepers to be deployed.

Feelers

Informal feelers have already been put out to a number of European and African countries that might be willing to contribute forces.

A meeting was held on Tuesday of the UN secretariate to discuss this and an assessment mission is expected to be sent to the region next week.

Ethiopian soldiers
Peace has held since the ceasefire deal was signed in June

The mission will prepare a report for the UN Security Council, which will then formally ask countries to contribute troops to the UN peacekeeping mission.

The deal agreed in Algiers allows Ethiopian forces to remain inside Eritrea until a UN peacekeeping force, acting under the aegis of the OAU, is deployed along the Eritrean side of the border.

There have been no reports of hostilities since the peace deal was signed.

However, the Ethiopian and Eritrean foreign ministers did not talk to each other during weeks of indirect negotiations in the Algerian capital, forcing international mediators to shuttle between them as they tried to narrow their differences.

And there have been no reports of substantial progress in contacts since the deal was signed.

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See also:

12 Jun 00 | Africa
Ethiopia-Eritrea peace plan
12 May 00 | Battle in the Horn
Border a geographer's nightmare
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