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  • Eritrea – Ethiopia Conflict

  •   Eritrea Seeks Direct Talks With Ethiopia

    Monday, June 15, 1998; Page A17

    ASMARA, Eritrea, June 14—Eritrea said today that it is ready for face-to-face talks with Ethiopia to seek an end to the undeclared month-old border war between the two former East African allies. Ethiopia has rejected previous calls for direct talks, saying Eritrea must first withdraw its troops from the area under dispute.

    The confrontation between the neighbors, both former Italian colonies, simmered for months before boiling over on May 6. Since then, hundreds of people have been killed in a ground and air war fought on three fronts along their 625-mile frontier.

    Italian special envoy Rino Serri, who described a meeting with Eritrean President Issaias Afewerki Saturday as "very encouraging," said Italy views peace proposals by Rwanda and the United States as "a good starting point to negotiations." Ethiopia has accepted the proposals, but Eritrea has dismissed them as part of a U.S. policy of "quick fixes and bulldozing." A U.S. delegation met with Issaias Friday and Saturday before leaving without issuing a statement.

    Serri has called for initial agreement on three points: a deescalation of the conflict; a cessation of all air strikes and the beginning of negotiations on a solution to the conflict.

    No fighting has been reported from the scattered fronts since Thursday, but senior Eritrean officials said they expect more combat before a final settlement is reached. Ethiopia says its forces have killed or wounded nearly 11,000 Eritrean troops since the fighting began. Eritrea has refused to estimate the number of casualties on either side.

    © Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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