Ethiopia-Eritrean border war simmers
May 18, 1999
Zenawi's visit to Egypt came just two days after Eritrean President Isayas Afewerki met with Mubarak.
But Ethiopian government spokeswoman Selome Tadesse said earlier that the conflict with Eritrea was not on the agenda of the "purely bilateral talks" between Zenawi and Mubarak.
"I would like to make the record clear," she said. "There will be no face-to-face talks between the leaders of Ethiopia and Eritrea in Cairo and there will be no talk on a cease-fire."
Tens of thousands of people are believed to have died in the war between the two Horn of Africa countries. Eritrea gained independence from Ethiopia on friendly terms in 1993.
Both countries have accepted in general terms a peace plan drawn up by the Organization of African Unity. But the two nations disagree on details.
Ethiopia says Eritrea must withdraw from all the contested areas it occupied in the first round of the war last year. But Eritrea says it is only obliged to pull out of the Badme region, which it has done.
The OAU and the United States have called for an immediate cease-fire. But Isayas said Monday that Ethiopia's ultimate goal is to take his capital and oust him from power.
"They have said it openly, it is either they survive or we survive," he said.
Ethiopia launched a new round of air raids over the weekend, prompting an outcry from Eritrea.
"They seek to provoke us into a new round of fights and throw the whole agreement out of the window," Eritrea's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Isayas told reporters that he would not be provoked into retaliation.
Sunday's bombing raids struck a weapons depot in southwest Eritrea and the Red Sea port of Massawa. On Saturday, Ethiopian attacks hit Eritrean front-line positions near Zalambessa.
Reuters contributed to this report.
Ethiopia bombs Eritrean frontline positions
University of Pennsylvania - Department of African Studies
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