Reuters | February 5, 2008
NAIROBI (Reuters) - Eritrea on Tuesday brushed aside U.N. demands that it lift its fuel blockade of peacekeepers, even though the head of the world body says the troops may have to start quitting the Ethiopia-Eritrea border on Wednesday.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned the Security Council last week he may be forced to begin the withdrawal of the peacekeepers along the volatile frontier unless Eritrea resumes fuel supplies.
"That's not an issue as far as we're concerned," Information Minister Ali Abdu told Reuters by telephone. "The sole obligation of the U.N. is to take appropriate action against the occupier (Ethiopia)."
Eritrea accuses Ethiopia, which it fought in a 1998-2000 border war, of occupying sovereign territory -- a charge rejected by Addis Ababa.
Last week, the world body renewed for another six months the mandate of a 1,700-strong mission charged with monitoring the 1,000-km (620-mile) frontier.
Eritrea has had frosty relations with the United Nations since expelling Western peacekeepers and banning helicopter flights.
Ethiopia and Eritrea have been deadlocked in a bitter dispute over their shared border since an independent commission awarded the town of Badme to Asmara.
Late last year, the commission -- frustrated by lack of progress physically marking the border -- dissolved itself, "virtually" marking the boundary on maps.
Eritrea accepted the decision, but Ethiopia called it "legal fiction." (Reporting by Jack Kimball, editing by Bryson Hull and Charles Dick)