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Eritrea to Accept Plan to End War With Ethiopia

<i> From Associated Press</i>

Eritrea said Saturday that it will accept an African-sponsored proposal to end its border dispute with Ethiopia, a major reversal attributed to setbacks Eritrea suffered at its most fortified front.

Diplomats said Eritrea’s unexpected acceptance of the Organization of African Unity border plan was a welcome step and followed Eritrea’s admission Friday that Ethiopian troops had punched through a key front line at Badme.

U.N. Security Council President Robert Fowler of Canada told council members that Ethiopia had broken through the Badme front and was six miles into Eritrean territory.

President Clinton, who has dispatched former National Security Advisor Anthony Lake to the region several times in the past year to try to broker a solution, issued a statement welcoming Eritrea’s “important” decision.

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“The United States will continue to work with both parties to achieve a peaceful resolution to this conflict,” he said.

Diplomats in New York also said that the move was a clear indication that Eritrean troops were in trouble at Badme and that the government feared Ethiopia would try to take even more territory.

The diplomats, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Eritrea had placed most of its military strength at the front, about 600 miles north of the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

The Horn of Africa neighbors are contesting parts of their barren, largely uninhabited 620-mile border. Both sides have clashed in air and ground combat since Tuesday.

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The latest round of fighting began Feb. 6 and ended an eight-month stalemate after full-scale war killed 1,000 people last May and June.

President Isaias Afwerki informed the Security Council of Eritrea’s acceptance of the OAU proposal in a letter to Fowler on Saturday.

There was no immediate reaction in Ethiopia.


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