Ethiopia Charges Libya Aids Eritria with MiG Fighters

By Marshall, Toni | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), March 21, 1999 | Go to article overview

Ethiopia Charges Libya Aids Eritria with MiG Fighters


Marshall, Toni, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


A senior Ethiopian official has accused Libya of supplying border rival Eritrea with MiG-29 fighter planes in the Horn of Africa conflict and blamed the international community for letting the monthlong fighting to continue.

"Why [Libyan leader Muammar] Qaddafi has been dabbling with [this issue] is totally incomprehensible. We don't have strained relations with Libya," said Tekeda Alemu, vice minister of foreign affairs for Ethiopia, in an interview with The Washington Times.

Eritrea's Ambassador Semere Russom disputed Mr. Tekeda's charge that his country was receiving help from Libya and said the accusation was "full of lies and fabrications."

"We have not gotten any armament or planes from Libya," Mr. Semere said. "The Eritrean government depends on meager resources as far as the war has been concerned."

Mr. Tekeda, who was in Washington this week attending the U.S.-Africa Ministerial Conference, referred to the Eritrean government as "impressionable" and called for the United States and the U.N. Security Council to send a clear message to Eritrea condemning it as the "aggressor."

He said, "If Washington and the international community would have taken the necessary steps from the go, we would have managed to avoid a full-scale war."

While in Washington, Mr. Tekeda met with senior U.S. officials but said he received no assurances that the United States would condemn Eritrea for breaking international law on peaceful settlement of territorial disputes, nor did the administration give any certainty of direct U.S. involvement.

"The U.S. administration is well aware of the strategic implication of the problem," he said.

"With the help of the international community, Eritrea can be made to withdraw from the rest of the territory," Mr. Tekeda said.

Meanwhile, fighting continued in the region yesterday near the Mereb River, near the Shambiko area. Skirmishes also were underway on the central Zala Anbesa-Egala front. …

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