U.N. hails renewed ties between Eritrea and Ethiopia, no word on sanctions

Members of the United Nations security council sit during a meeting. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – The U.N. Security Council on Tuesday welcomed warming ties between Eritrea and Ethiopia, but diplomats said it stopped short of pledging that it could review sanctions on Eritrea after the United States, China, Britain, France and Ivory Coast raised concerns.

On Monday, Ethiopia and Eritrea declared an end to their state of war and agreed to open embassies, develop ports and resume flights between the two countries after decades of hostilities.

An initial Swedish-drafted U.N. Security Council statement, seen by Reuters, “reaffirmed that efforts by the Government of Eritrea to engage with the international community enables a review of measures on Eritrea.”

But several council members raised concerns about linking the rapprochement to a sanctions review and the reference was dropped, diplomats said.

Ivory Coast also wanted the statement to mention a border dispute between Eritrea and Djibouti, a move supported by several other members, but it was not included, diplomats said.

Deadly clashes broke out between the Horn of Africa countries in June 2008 after Djibouti accused Asmara of moving troops across the border.

The U.N. Security Council requested both sides withdraw, before the neighbors accepted a Qatari request to mediate and deploy peacekeepers. Qatar pulled out its contingent a year ago after the two East African countries sided with Saudi Arabia and its allies in their standoff with Doha.

Ethiopia, currently a council member, said on Monday it wanted the United Nations to lift sanctions on Eritrea.

Eritrea has been subjected to a U.N. arms embargo since 2009 after U.N. experts monitoring sanctions on Somalia accused Eritrea of providing political, financial and logistical support to armed groups undermining peace and reconciliation in Somalia.

Eritrea has denied the accusations.

The 15-member Security Council is due to renew in November an arms embargo and targeted sanctions on Eritrea. They could choose to adopt a resolution before then to lift sanctions. A resolution needs nine votes in favor and no vetoes by the United States, China, Russia, Britain or France.

However, a November 2017 resolution renewing the sanctions also urged Eritrea and Djibouti “to continue to maintain an atmosphere of calm and restraint and calls on them to seek all available solutions to settle their border dispute peacefully.”

The resolution said the issue would be a factor in any council review of measures on Eritrea. Both the United States and China have military bases in Djibouti.

Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by James Dalgleish


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