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 You are in: Under Secretary for Political Affairs > Bureau of International Organization Affairs > Reports to Congress, U.S. Votes, Fact Sheets, Testimony > Other Remarks > 2006 International Organization Affairs Speeches/Remarks

Remarks to the Press on Ethiopia and Eritrea

Ambassador John R. Bolton, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations
Remarks at the Security Council Stakeout
New York City
January 9, 2006

Ambassador Bolton: Let’s get started. This morning in the Security Council we had a discussion of the situation between Ethiopia and Eritrea and what might be the next steps. I reported to the Council that the United States for some time of course has felt that what we should be doing is focus on the underlying political dispute between Ethiopian and Eritrea. And that is to say beginning the demarcation, that is to say the boundary, that had been decided upon by the Boundary Commission that the parties had agreed to in 2000 in the Algiers Agreement. Today I informed the Council that the United States was prepared to undertake an initiative to see if we can move forward on the demarcation process. And Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer will be traveling to the region with General Carlton Fulford and others to discuss how to begin implementation of the demarcation process. I made it clear to the Council there were no promises, no guarantees, I didn’t want to overstate what we were undertaking, we were proceeding realistically here, but we felt that this kind of diplomatic initiative could bring movement on the underlying political dispute. Accordingly, in order to give some space for this diplomatic initiative and in order not to send any signals, politically or otherwise, that might complicate it, I asked that we preserve the status quo on the UNMEE force disposition. I know the Secretary General had proposed six options in his most recent report, and essentially what we asked is if we could simply freeze the status quo for 30 days while our initiative proceeded. I said that we were certainly prepared to consider a meeting of the Algiers witnesses, of the governments and the EU that had witnessed the 2000 Algiers accord, and that I would be pleased to keep the Security Council informed of progress. What will happen at that point, obviously we’re not in a position to predict, but we did feel that this initiative by the United States was the best way to proceed at the moment to address the basic political issue and dispute.

Reporter: (inaudible)

Ambassador Bolton: I don’t really have anything new to say at this point on behalf of either of the parties. I think now we need to let the initiative play out over the next 30 days and we’ll see what happens at that point. As I said a moment ago, I don’t want to overstate this, I don’t want any spin, I don’t want any excessive expectations raised. We’re going to take this with seriousness, but the issue of getting to the demarcation has been held up almost four years now. It’s obviously not an easy undertaking, but we felt we were in the best position to try and deal with it.

Reporter: (inaudible)

Ambassador Bolton: I think the circumstances that we face now with the Eritrean restrictions on UNMEE’s operations obviously bring this to a critical point; and the involvement of the United States has the prospect of possibly getting forward momentum. But we’re not in the prediction business at this point. It’s a serious, diplomatic effort and we’ll see what happens. Mr. President, if you want to have a word.

Reporter: (inaudible)

Ambassador Bolton: Well, we have certainly heard all of these requests. And it’s our conclusion that this is the appropriate time to do it. As I said a moment ago, we do have a particularly difficult situation with the UNMEE deployment at the moment. But I think we also are close to four years after the decision of the Boundary Commission. And the intention that we have had, and this has been expressed over the past several months, is that we need to address the underlying political problem, not simply the peacekeeping operation itself to make sure that the peacekeeping operation does become a part of the problem. And I think this is what Assistant Secretary Frazer is going to try and do. And I was pleased at the reaction in the Council, as Ambassador Mahiga will confirm, I think there was widespread support for it. So I think that’s another positive aspect of today’s initiative that hopefully gives the mission some wings as it starts out.

Reporter: (inaudible)

Ambassador Bolton: We don’t have a date.

Reporter: (inaudible)

Ambassador Bolton: Sorry, I’d really like to confine my comments here to the Ethiopia/Eritrea situation if I could.

Reporter: (inaudible)

Ambassador Bolton: We’re bringing Assistant Secretary Frazer, who is a very effective diplomat and General Fulford, who’s quite knowledgeable about the border and the demarcation process. As I say, I think as in many diplomatic efforts picking the moment, picking the opportunity, we’re hoping this is the right moment and the right opportunity.

Reporter: (inaudible)

Ambassador Bolton: Well, I think we want to move toward demarcation of the boundary. As I’ve said before, and as we’ve said in other public statements, the issue there is one that goes to the question of the parties’ fundamental agreement of the Algiers Accords of 2000. If they’re both still serious about that, if they’re both committed to what they agreed to in 2000, then we should go forward with demarcation. That’s what we’re going to try and do. This is assessments of how we got to this point, which I think we can probably leave in history. I think what we want to see is demarcation accomplished and the dispute resolved.



Released on January 9, 2006

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