Ethiopia today warned the West not to interfere in the conflict in the Horn of Africa and gave notice that it would soon launch a counteroffensive to "reclaim our occupied territory."
Ethiopian Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs Dawit Wolde-Georgis said, "We do not intend to fight a war inside Somalia." He also told a London press conference that his government ruled out peace talks with Somalia "until Somalia has withdrawn from all territory it has occupied."
He confirmed that the Soviet Union and Cuba were among "highly-valued socialist friends responding in our hour of need" but said their help was limited to materiel and "no foreign personnel are fighting on our soil."
Maj. Dawit, who is in London on his way home from the United Nations, said he was visiting British Foreign Secretary David Owen today to "clarity Britain's position."
"Ethiopia "strongly warns the U.S., Britain, Somalis against Ethiopia," he said.
In Nairobi, Kenya, a member of Ethiopia's ruling council made one of the sharpest attacks yet on the United States, which for many years was its chief arms supplier. Maj. Berhanu Bayih said "The aggression by Somatlia against Ethiopia was committed at the instigation of the Carter administration and with the full collaboration of Arab reaction."
He said Ethiopia was buying arms from the Soviet Union and other countries because of U.S. refusal to supply them.
Washington had encouraged Somalia's invasion by stopping military aid grants to Ethiopia and then offering to sell arms to Somalia as Somali forces crossed into the Ogaden region he charged. "They (the Americans) support them (the Somalis) diplomatically and in their propaganda," he said.
Maj. Berhanu said there were 300 to 350 Cuban medical personnel and diplomats and about 100 from the Soviet Union in Ethiopia. Asked whether his country opposed in principle the deployment of foreign troops in Africa and Ethiopia, he replied: "It depends. We have our sovereignty and it's up to Ethiopia to decide."
U.S. officials have estimated that 2,000 Cuban and 1,000 Soviet military advisers are in Ethiopia.
In Washington, Ethiopian Ambassador Ayalew Mandefro, who was quoted in The Washington Post Wednesday as saying "we cannot negotiate on the Ogaden when the Somalis are still in the Ogaden," said yesterday he wanted to underscore that "Ogaden is part of Ethiopia and is not a point of negotiation with Somalia."