Ethiopia's prime minister says his country does not need foreign approval to defend itself against powerful Islamists who control much of neighboring Somalia.
Meles Zenawi told reporters in Addis Ababa Saturday that he believes his nation is being attacked by the Islamists, who earlier declared a holy war against Ethiopia.
Mr. Meles repeated that Addis Ababa is trying to avoid conflict with the Islamists through dialogue. But he added that Ethiopians are, in his words, "the direct victims" of aggression and might be "forced" into responding in kind.
Ethiopia has said that preparations for war are complete. But officials insist that was not a declaration of war.
Mr. Meles has sent military advisers to help the weak transitional Somali government, but he has denied reports that thousands of Ethiopian troops are in Somalia.
Ethiopia is a largely Christian nation that supports Somalia's transitional government, based in the town of Baidoa.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.