Pope Benedict XVI has urged the Roman Catholic bishops of Ethiopia and Eritrea to seek peace between the two countries.
The pope used a visit to the Ethiopian College at the Vatican to urge the Catholic community in the two nations to bring "healing and reconciliation” to the region. The Catholic bishops of Ethiopia and Eritrea are united in a single episcopal conference.
Pope Benedict’s appeal came as United Nations peacekeepers began withdrawing from nearly half their posts in a security zone along the tense border between Ethiopia and Eritrea.
The U.N. mission for the nations says restrictions on peacekeepers imposed by Eritrea has forced it to withdraw troops from 18 of its 40 posts. Earlier this month, Eritrea banned U.N. helicopter flights in its territory. That decision was followed by a ban on U.N. night patrol vehicles inside the security zone.