An Eritrean and and Ethiopian, discuss the situation along the common border between the two nations. The U.N. Security Council voted on Wednesday, May 31, to reduce the number of U.N. peacekeeping troops patrolling the border from 3,300 to 2,300, because Ethiopia has failed to agree on a shared border drawn by international experts and Eritrea has refused to end restrictions on peacekeepers' movements.
The troops have been stationed there since the end of the bloody two-year conflict between the two countries. As part of a peace deal ending the border war in 2000, Ethiopia and Eritrea agreed to allow an independent commission draw the boundary. But Ethiopia has refused to implement the group's 2002 decision, which gave the town of Badme to Eritrea. Eritrea, frustrated by what it sees as the international community's failure to exert sufficient pressure on Ethiopia to abide by the agreement has banned U.N. helicopter flights in the area and otherwise restricted the movements of the U.N. troops.
Talks between the two parties in London in mid-May failed to break the deadlock. On the VOA Tigrigna "People to People" program, Dr. Mekonen Tesfahunegn, an Ethiopian university lecturer in Sweden and Dr. Amanuel Teklizghi, a communications engineer from New Jersey, debate the situation. Dr. Mekonen is not optimistic that any negotiations will yield results, saying it is not politically acceptable for Ethiopia's leaders to go along with the boundary commission's decision. Dr. Amanuel, however, believes a positive outcome is possible, but cautions the troop cut might complicate the peace process between the two adversaries. (click the link above to listen to the program in Tigrigna)