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Eritrean Minister Rejects US Terrorism Accusation


A senior Eritrean minister Saturday criticized U.S. consideration to put his country on a list of state sponsors of terrorism for providing support to Islamist insurgents in Somalia.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Jendayi Frazer said Friday the U.S. is considering the move, which would impose sanctions on Eritrea.

Eritrean Information Minister Ali Abdu responded by saying his country "would like to thank ... Frazer for exposing ... her ill will toward the Eritrean people."

A U.N. report issued last month says Eritrea has shipped large quantities of weapons to Islamist insurgents fighting the Ethiopian-backed Somali government. Eritrean authorities deny the report's findings. But Frazer called the report "fairly convincing."

Eritrea and Ethiopia have tense relations stemming from a border dispute.

The U.S. has also ordered Eritrea to close its consulate in California out of concern for the African country's role in Somalia. Frazer says the U.S. will consider further action if Eritrean behavior does not change.

Washington is also concerned about restrictions placed on the U.S. Embassy in Eritrea's capital.

The U.S. says Eritrea has refused to grant visas to officials assigned to work at the Asmara embassy.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.