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Ethiopian PM: War With Eritrea Not Imminent


Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi is playing down the prospect of another border war with Eritrea, despite rising tensions along the disputed frontier.

Prime Minister Meles says he still holds out hope that the contentious border issue with Eritrea can be settled through negotiations and diplomacy.

In recent weeks there have been troop redeployments on both sides of the 1000 kilometer border, which remains disputed after a two-year war that ended five years ago with about 70,000 people killed.

Prime Minister Meles, in an interview with journalists from Western media organizations, accused Eritrea of saber rattling.

"The risk of war has not significantly increased simply because of the war rhetoric in Asmara recently," he said. "And so while I cannot rule out the possibility of another round of conflict, I am not of the opinion that war is just around the corner. No, that is not my feeling."

The Ethiopian leader says he reinforced military units near the border last week to "prevent miscalculation on the part of Eritrea" at a time when Addis Ababa was rocked by anti-government demonstrations.

Eritrea wants the international community to put more pressure on Ethiopia to accept the map drawn by an independent commission to delineate the border.

Mr. Meles says he accepts the commission's ruling though he disagrees with it, arguing some villages and even homes are divided in half by the map.

He says he also wants talks with Eritrea on other key issues, such as Ethiopian access to the sea, and bilateral trade relations.

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