Eritrea and Ethiopia to sign formal peace deal

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The Independent Online

Eritrea and Ethiopia will sign a peace treaty on December 12 in Algiers, bringing to an end their two-year border war that cost millions of dollars and tens of thousands of lives, the Eritrean presidential spokesman said this morning.

Eritrea and Ethiopia will sign a peace treaty on December 12 in Algiers, bringing to an end their two-year border war that cost millions of dollars and tens of thousands of lives, the Eritrean presidential spokesman said this morning.

Yemane Gebremeskel said by telephone from the capital, Asmara, that President Isaias Afwerki had received a formal invitation over the weekend from President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to attend the signing ceremony in the Algerian capital.

Ethiopian and Eritrean military officers met over the weekend in Nairobi with officials of the 2,200-strong U.N. peacekeeping mission that is deploying between the two countries.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan is scheduled to visit Ethiopia and Eritrea from Wednesday to Saturday to review the peackeeping operation.

The war over the 620 mile border broke out in May 1998 when Eritrea, which had gained independence five years earlier from Ethiopia after a 30-year guerrilla war, moved into what Ethiopians considered to be their territory. The border, first traced during the Italian occupation of Eritrea, has never been formally demarcated.

The two sides signed a cessations of hostilities agreement on June 18 in Algiers. The Algerians, the Organisation of African Unity and President Bill Clinton's special envoy, Anthony Lake, have been mediating peace talks.

Gebremeskel said the Eritreans were satisfied that there were adequate provisions in the agreement to investigate the causes of the war, to undertake a formal demarcation of the border and to establish a commission to hear claims for compensation for war damages.

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