April 21, 2010 / 4:22 PM / 8 years ago

Djibouti says Eritrea will bow to UN sanctions

NAIROBI (Reuters) - United Nations sanctions imposed on Eritrea last year will stop it interfering in Somalia, Djibouti’s foreign minister said on Wednesday.

Mahmoud Ali Youssouf told reporters in Nairobi he was confident Eritrea would be forced to alter its foreign policies but it would likely remain the region’s pariah state.

“Eritrea is trying in a way to wage war with each and everybody in the region,” said Youssouf, who was in the Kenyan capital to discuss regional security and economic cooperation with his Kenyan counterpart.

Eritrea is accused of backing rebel groups in Somalia — something it has repeatedly denied — where at least 21,000 people have been killed in violence since the beginning of 2007.

In December the United Nations imposed sanctions on Eritrea, saying Asmara was sending weapons to southern Somalia, which is controlled by the al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab group.

Djibouti, which is sandwiched between Eritrea and Somalia, said it alone could not disrupt the flow of weapons from Eritrea but was confident the sanctions would have the desired effect.

“(The U.N. sanctions will) compel Eritrea to at least abide by international regulations and stop messing with the national security of Somalia ... and Djibouti,” he said.

A U.N. report last month suggested weapons deliveries from Eritrea to Somalia had slowed recently and Asmara’s support for Somali rebels was now more diplomatic, logistical and financial.

But Eritrea denies it ever assisted the violent insurgency and says the sanctions were designed and imposed by Washington because it feared any nation that would go its own way.

Youssouff said the resolution was an African initiative, pointing out it was tabled at the Security Council by Uganda.

Relations between the two neighbours remain hostile, with occasional border skirmishes. Djibouti says a portion of their land is being occupied by Eritrea, something Asmara denies.

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