July 10, 2018 / 8:55 PM / 5 months ago

U.N. hails renewed ties between Eritrea and Ethiopia, no word on sanctions

    By Michelle Nichols
    UNITED NATIONS, July 10 (Reuters) - The U.N. Security
Council on Tuesday welcomed warming ties between Eritrea and
Ethiopia, but diplomats said it stopped short of pledging that
it could review sanctions on Eritrea after the United States,
China, Britain, France and Ivory Coast raised concerns. 
    On Monday, Ethiopia and Eritrea declared an end to their
state of war and agreed to open embassies, develop ports and
resume flights between the two countries after decades of
hostilities.             
    An initial Swedish-drafted U.N. Security Council statement,
seen by Reuters, "reaffirmed that efforts by the Government of
Eritrea to engage with the international community enables a
review of measures on Eritrea." 
    But several council members raised concerns about linking
the rapprochement to a sanctions review and the reference was
dropped, diplomats said. 
    Ivory Coast also wanted the statement to mention a border
dispute between Eritrea and Djibouti, a move supported by
several other members, but it was not included, diplomats said. 
 
    Deadly clashes broke out between the Horn of Africa
countries in June 2008 after Djibouti accused Asmara of moving
troops across the border.
    The U.N. Security Council requested both sides withdraw,
before the neighbors accepted a Qatari request to mediate and
deploy peacekeepers. Qatar pulled out its contingent a year ago
after the two East African countries sided with Saudi Arabia and
its allies in their standoff with Doha.   
    Ethiopia, currently a council member, said on Monday it
wanted the United Nations to lift sanctions on Eritrea.
    Eritrea has been subjected to a U.N. arms embargo since 2009
after U.N. experts monitoring sanctions on Somalia accused
Eritrea of providing political, financial and logistical support
to armed groups undermining peace and reconciliation in Somalia.
    Eritrea has denied the accusations. 
    The 15-member Security Council is due to renew in November
an arms embargo and targeted sanctions on Eritrea. They could
choose to adopt a resolution before then to lift sanctions. A
resolution needs nine votes in favor and no vetoes by the United
States, China, Russia, Britain or France. 
    However, a November 2017 resolution renewing the sanctions
also urged Eritrea and Djibouti "to continue to maintain an
atmosphere of calm and restraint and calls on them to seek all
available solutions to settle their border dispute peacefully."
    The resolution said the issue would be a factor in any
council review of measures on Eritrea. Both the United States
and China have military bases in Djibouti. 

 (Reporting by Michelle Nichols
Editing by James Dalgleish)
  
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