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    Press Release No:  UNIS/SG/2578
    Release Date:  23 May 2000
    Secretary-General, “Immensely Saddened at Resumption of Incomprehensible War”, Urges Ethiopia, Eritrea to Conclude Immediate Ceasefire

     NEW YORK, 22 May (UN Headquarters) -- The following statement was issued today by the Spokesman for Secretary-General Kofi Annan:

     The Secretary-General has been following, closely and with increasing concern, the resumption of large-scale hostilities between Ethiopia and Eritrea.  He has, from the outset two years ago, sought to promote a peaceful settlement of the border dispute between the two countries.  In addition to his own efforts with Prime Minister Meles and President Afwerki, both directly and through his Special Envoy, Ambassador Mohamed Sahnoun, the Secretary-General has given strong support to the peace initiatives of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and others.  He has been liaising closely with the current Chairman of the OAU, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, whose efforts he fully supports.

     The Secretary-General is immensely saddened at the resumption of what is an increasingly incomprehensible war.  There can be no justification for such large-scale death and suffering, especially at a time when both countries are wracked by drought and hunger.  The parties have already agreed to settle their conflict through the restoration of the status quo ante as of 6 May 1998 and delimitation and demarcation of their entire border with the help of the United Nations.  Furthermore, they are already also in agreement on the sequence of mutual withdrawal from occupied territories in order to return to the status quo ante.  That is why the Secretary-General has repeatedly stressed that the differences between the two countries cannot justify in any way the great loss in human lives they have already suffered and stand to suffer further.

     The Secretary-General wishes to take this opportunity to express his full support for the current mission of Ahmed Ouyahia, the Special Envoy of OAU Chairman and Algerian President Bouteflika, and for the efforts of other peace envoys.  He urges the Governments of Ethiopia and Eritrea to seize this opportunity and calls, in the strongest possible terms, for an immediate ceasefire in accordance with Security Council resolutions 1297 and 1298 so as to give peace a chance.  History will not easily understand or forgive if there is any further killing and unnecessary humanitarian suffering.

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