Top UN officials head to Ethiopia and Eritrea in bid to ease

Jean-Marie Guéhenno, head of the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), and General Randir Kumar Mehta, the UN military advisor, plan to interview UN staff in both countries to assess the situation between Ethiopia and Eritrea, whose ongoing border dispute erupted into war between 1998 and 2000.They have also requested meetings with political leaders on both sides, whom Mr. Guéhenno will encourage to adhere to the peace process and subsequent Security Council resolutions, according to a spokesman for the world body.The UN has already conveyed a message to the Eritrean authorities that it cannot accept their request for a pullout, within 10 days from 6 December, by staff of the UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) who originate from the United States, Canada, Europe and Russia.On Tuesday, both the Secretary-General and the Security Council demanded that Eritrea rescind its request, which they said was inconsistent with the fundamental principle of the universality of peacekeeping operations, which represent the whole of the international community.Both the Council and the Secretary-General also demanded that Eritrea reverse its ban on air flights and lift all restrictions imposed on UNMEE’s operations as called for by the Council’s 23 November resolution on the matter.That resolution threatened actions, possibly including sanctions, against Eritrea and Ethiopia if, in the case of Eritrea, it does not immediately rescind its flight ban, and against both parties if they do not reverse their military build up. read more

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