Ambassador Araia Desta
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July 6, 2017

Eritrea has reaffirmed their stance over maintaining Qatar as the sole mediator in its territorial dispute with neighbouring Djibouti.

The country’s ambassador to the African Union (AU) says that Qatar should continue its role of peace broker in the dispute even after the withdrawal of its peacekeepers from the area.

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“For the time being, as far as Djibouti is concerned, Qatar remains the mediator,” Ambassador Araia Desta told AFP on the last day of an AU heads of state summit in Addis Ababa.

The AU chief is reported to have confirmed that the body will send its peace and security chief to Eritrea to confer with authorities in Asmara over the border tensions. This will be the body’s second mission after an earlier fact-finding body was deployed two weeks ago.

The latest tension between Djibouti and Asmara was an offshoot of the Gulf crisis which saw Saudi and its allies black out Qatar on accusations that Doha supported terrorist groups in the region. A claim Qatar strongly rejects.

The two countries were widely reported to have backed Saudi and its allies. Eritrea, however, has rejected that position stating that it remained neutral in the matter.

In June 2010, Qatar had signed an agreement between Eritrea and Djibouti to resolve their territorial conflict by negotiated settlement. Qatari soldiers had been deployed in the disputed areas pending a final agreement between the two countries.

The relations between the two countries had strained after an incursion in April 2008 of Eritrean troops to Ras Doumeira, a strategic promontory overlooking the entrance of the Red Sea north of Djibouti city. The two countries opposed twice in 1996 and 1999 for this area.

When Qatar announced on 14 June that it had withdrawn its troops deployed in that region. Djibouti said it had noticed on the same day that Eritrea had taken advantage of this withdrawal to occupy the area, before retiring again the next day.

Djibouti said it favored “diplomatic solutions” to resolve the dispute, but did not exclude the use of “military solutions”, which caused international concern.

Djibouti on Monday urged the AU to support its efforts to negotiate a settlement of this territorial dispute through a “demarcation of the border” with Eritrea.

Source: Africa

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