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Eritrea slams UN Security Council sanctions threat

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Nov 24, 2005 ASMARA) — Eritrea said Thursday that a UN Security Council threat to impose sanctions against it and Ethiopia should they return to war over their tense border was "perverted" and a "recipe for more conflict."

Yemane Gebremeskel, the director of Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki’s office, said Wednesday’s threat was misguided and that Asmara would not rescind restrictions imposed on UN peacekeepers as demanded by the Security Council.

He said the council had failed to meet its responsibilities by not warning in a resolution of specific consquences for Ethiopia if it does not accept a 2002 binding border demarcation that it has thus far rejected.

"The resolution is not threatening any action if Ethiopia does not accept the demarcation of the border," Yemane told AFP in Asmara. "It is a recipe for more conflict."

The resolution threatens economic and diplomatic sanctions against both Asmara and Addis Ababa if they resume their 1998-2000 border war and says Eritrea will face punitive steps unless it lifts a ban on helicopter flights by UN peacekeepers.

Asked if Eritrea would lift the helicopter ban it imposed last month, Yemane bluntly replied: "No," adding that Asmara was not particularly concerned by the sanctions threat.

"What worries us is the failure of the Security Council to shoulder its responsibilities," he said.

Eritrea has threatened a new war if Ethiopia persists in rejecting the border ruling that emanated from a peace deal signed in Algiers to end their conflict after the loss of some 80,000 lives.

Ethiopia says it wants revisions to the demarcation, which awards the flashpoint border town of Badme to Eritrea, so families are not split between the arch-rival nations.

In a statement, Eritrea’s foreign ministry also blasted the Security Council resolution, saying that Ethiopia should be threatened with force under Article 7 of the UN Charter unless it accepts the demarcation.

"In a perverted logic, the Security Council will not invoke, as it should, Chapter 7 if and as Ethiopia continues to violate the Algiers (accord) and the UN Charter to forcibly occupy sovereign territories of a UN member," it said.

"Instead, the Security Council has chosen to focus on derivative and secondary clauses and arrangements to impose sanctions against Eritrea," the ministry said.

The UN has said since early November that the military situation along the border is "tense and potentially volatile," and that it has observed troop movements on both sides.

On Thursday, the UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) said a small group of Ethiopian soldiers had breached a de-militarized buffer zone along the border inside Eritrea amid the heightened tensions.

(AFP/ST)

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