June 28, 2010 / 7:26 PM / 8 years ago

UPDATE 1-UN urges Eritrea to comply with its resolutions

* Ban says steps in right direction, calls for more

* Eritrea stays silent on deal, few details public

* Ethiopia says Eritrea trying to destabilise region

(Recasts with UN)

By Jeremy Clarke

NAIROBI, June 28 (Reuters) - Eritrea is taking steps in the right direction but should do more to prove it is complying with U.N. resolutions on security issues affecting its neighbours, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Monday.

Eritrea participated in a Qatar-led effort to solve its border dispute with Djibouti and it sent representatives to the Istanbul conference on Somalia last month.

“While recent developments represent a move in the right direction, I urge the government of Eritrea to do more to provide evidence of its compliance with Resolution 1907 and the practical measures set out in it,” Ban said in a statement posted on the U.N. website.

The resolution imposed an arms embargo on Eritrea, a travel ban and an assets freeze on Eritrean political and military leaders who violate the embargo or provide support to armed groups destabilising the region in places like Somalia.

The restrictions also targeted leaders seen as having obstructed implementation of a previous U.N. resolution that demanded that Eritrea withdraw its troops from Djibouti.

The two Red Sea nations, who overlook vital shipping lanes linking Europe and Asia, have traded accusations and engaged in occasional border skirmishes since June 2008 when Djibouti said Eritrea crossed the border and began occupying its territory.

ETHIOPIA SCEPTICAL

While Ethiopia, Eritrea’s arch-foe, says an agreement between Asmara and Djibouti should be taken with some scepticism, Djibouti says Eritrea has now withdrawn its troops as part of the deal.

“The international community should take any positive signal from the regime in Asmara ... with a modicum of optimism ... but it has to be a guarded one,” Ethiopia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a website statement on Monday.

“Eritrea’s behaviour is far from reassuring,” it said, citing the lack of detail known about the deal and the fact it did not involve any major international body.

“There is no evidence to even remotely suggest that (Eritrea) has altogether stopped its destructive activities in Somalia and other countries of the region,” it said.

Eritrea used to be a part of Ethiopia and it fought a 30-year war for its independence. The two foes returned to war in 1998-2000 in a conflict that cost some 70,000 lives.

Eritrea has repeatedly denied that it arms Somali rebel groups, and it has often asserted that the Djibouti dispute was a fabrication invented by enemies to tarnish its image.

Analysts say this may explain why Eritrea has not commented on the deal — Information Minister Ali Abdu declined to acknowledge it to Reuters — and why the state-run newspaper, the Eritrea Profile, has yet to refer to it in print.

“Look at the repeated public statements by the president over the course of the year that called the conflict a fabrication and denied Eritrean soldiers ever stepped foot on soil in Djibouti,” a Western diplomat told Reuters.

“No one in the government is willing to now contradict him by admitting to a well-known troop withdrawal, or to Qatar mediating what is a real conflict,” the diplomat said. (Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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