At the start of a two-day tour of Eritrea and Ethiopia to dispel rising tensions, the Chairman of the United Nations Security Council Working Group on Peacekeeping Operations said today that the resolution of the border dispute between the formerly warring Horn of Africa countries called for "delicacy, skills and good judgement."
Japanese Ambassador Kenzo Oshima met for almost three hours in Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa, with the UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE), being given a political overview by mission chief Legwaila Joseph Legwaila and a briefing from Force Commander Maj.-Gen. Rajender Singh on the peacekeeping situation since the banning of UN helicopters from Eritrean air space on 5 October.
He also met with Ethiopian Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin for what he called "a very fruitful exchange" and later had an exchange with representatives of UNMEE's troop-contributing countries and other interested Governments, as well as members of the UN Country Team.
UNMEE has reported increased restrictions on the movements of its ground patrols in certain areas of Eritrea. Its mandate includes monitoring the cessation of hostilities, monitoring and verifying the positions of the two forces 25 kilometres apart, removing land mines in key areas to support boundary demarcation and providing administrative and logistical support for the Field Offices of the Boundary Commission.
Eritrea has accepted the Boundary Commission's decisions, but Ethiopia has expressed reservations.
Mr. Oshima told a news conference that the Security Council would continue to urge Eritrea to lift the helicopter ban and to call on both countries to exercise maximum restraint.
Mr. Mesfin explained his country's deployment of troops on its side of the Temporary Security Zone (TSZ) and stressed that Ethiopia had no intention of being the first to take action, he said.
The Council representative leaves tomorrow for the Eritrean capital, Asmara, for talks with President Isaias Afewerki and UNMEE representatives.