African Union welcomes Eritrea, Djibouti mediation deal

Wed Jun 9, 2010 6:20am GMT

By Barry Malone

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - The African Union on Tuesday supported a mediation agreement between Eritrea and Djibouti, whose border standoff could destabilise the Horn of Africa region.

Djibouti's government said that further to the deal, Eritrea had withdrawn its troops from two areas they had occupied.

The Red Sea nations, who share a coastline on a crucial shipping lane linking Asia to Europe, clashed over their border several times in 2008 and routinely exchange accusations.

Jean Ping, chair of the AU Commission, said the countries had signed a deal that would see Qatar's Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani mediate between them.

"(Jean Ping) expresses the hope that this...endeavour would have a positive impact on the overall situation in the Horn of Africa...including the resolution of other bilateral disputes in the region," an AU statement said.

"(Ping) is confident that the proposal to be made will indeed pave the way for a full normalisation of relations between Djibouti and Eritrea," said the statement, which singled out the Somali peace effort as getting a boost from the move.

Djibouti said Eritrean troops had withdrawn from two areas.

"Mahamoud Ali Youssouf...confirmed the withdrawal of the Eritrean troops from Doumeira and the island of Doumeira," the foreign ministry said a statement, quoting its minister.   Continued...

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