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Statement on the Eritrea-Ethiopia Border Conflict

February 09, 1999

I am deeply concerned by the heavy fighting along the border between Ethiopia and Eritrea. Since the dispute began in May 1998, my administration has sought to work with these two friends of the United States to achieve a peaceful resolution. Susan Rice, the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, has conducted intensive shuttle diplomacy between Ethiopia and Eritrea, and former National Security Adviser Anthony Lake has made four trips to the region at my request.

We remain committed to this crucial effort. A peaceful solution can and must be found without delay. I urge both parties to halt the fighting immediately. If the conflict continues, its human and economic cost will be incalculable for the people of Ethiopia and Eritrea and for the entire region.

I am disappointed that hostilities resumed while sustained diplomatic efforts by the international community were continuing. We welcome Ethiopia's standing acceptance of the Organization of African Unity's Framework Agreement and maintain our support for the efforts of the OAU and others to promote a peaceful resolution of this conflict.

The return to hostilities cannot bring about a lasting solution to this dispute. I am particularly alarmed by the recent use of air power, which escalates the conflict and violates the agreed airstrike moratorium. I urge the Ethiopian Government to refrain from further use of its aircraft as currently employed along the border, and I ask both sides to renew their commitment to the moratorium.

For the sake of their people, the leaders of Ethiopia and Eritrea must immediately halt the fighting and recommit themselves to diplomatic efforts to secure a peaceful settlement.

William J. Clinton, Statement on the Eritrea-Ethiopia Border Conflict Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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