Letters: Eritrea's war

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The Independent Culture
Eritrea's war

Sir: Central to Alex Duval Smith's article "Women take up arms in " (report, 2 July) are allegations that the war between Ethiopia and Eritrea is "about Ethiopia's ambitions to expand towards the sea", that "the Tigrayan minority that runs the multi-ethnic Ethiopian state feels it must assert itself in the face of internal tensions", and that "in its short period of independence, Eritrea has become increasingly irritating to Ethiopia".

These allegations are utter nonsense.

The war began when Eritrea invaded first one, and then three more areas of Ethiopian sovereign territory in May 1998 - as has been acknowledged by the OAU, the UN and the international community.

This war is solely about that invasion, and it continues only because of Eritrea's refusal to withdraw and implement the OAU Framework Agreement for peace.

We supported the referendum that brought about Eritrea's independence, we make no claims on Eritrean territory, and we regard the independent status of Eritrea as non-negotiable.

Ethiopia elected its first democratic government in 1995, and that government wants only to be allowed to get on with improving conditions for its people.

Eritrea's aggression stands in the way of that, and we call on the international community yet again to do all that it can to persuade Eritrea to withdraw so that a cease-fire can take place.

Dr BEYENS NEGEWO

Ambassador

Embassy of The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia

London SW7

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