African Union urges restraint in Djibouti-Eritrea border spat

Google map showing the volatile border between Djibouti and Eritrea.
Updated 17 June 2017

African Union urges restraint in Djibouti-Eritrea border spat

NAIROBI: The African Union (AU) on Saturday urged “restraint” as tensions intensified between Djibouti and Eritrea over a disputed border territory after the withdrawal of Qatari peacekeepers from a buffer zone.
Djibouti has accused Eritrea of occupying territory following the departure of the Qatari troops, threatening the revival of a long-standing, sometimes violent dispute.
AU Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat called for “calm and restraint” and said the body would send a “fact-finding mission to the Djibouti-Eritrea border.”
The Qatari pullout comes as the Gulf country is locked in a bitter dispute with Saudi Arabia and its allies over alleged ties to extremists, a charge it denies.
Both Djibouti and Eritrea have good relations with Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and have taken their side in the row.
Djibouti Foreign Minister Mahmoud Ali Youssouf on Thursday accused Eritrea of “moving its forces” into the Doumeira region where Qatari peacekeepers had been stationed since 2010 as a buffer between the two nations’ armies.
“Djibouti is a peaceful country and we have prioritized diplomatic solutions, but if Eritrea insists on seeking military solutions, Djibouti is ready for that,” Youssouf said in a press conference broadcast on local television.
Eritrea has not yet responded to the allegations.
Djibouti is a strategic ally of world powers, hosting French and US military bases with a Chinese one under construction.
Djibouti’s large port is also a conduit for imports to and exports from Ethiopia, Eritrea’s bitter enemy.
The AU said it was “ready to assist Djibouti and Eritrea to normalize their relations and promote good neighborliness within the framework of relevant AU instruments.”
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the world body has received written communications from Djibouti and Eritrea “and we’re taking a look at it.” He did not disclose the contents but called the incident “an example of the spill-over effect” from the Gulf dispute.
Eritrea’s top diplomat at the AU said the country wants to solve the problem with Djibouti peacefully.
A spokesman for Eritrea’s biggest armed opposition group, Nasredin Ali, said Eritrea sent two battalions to control the contested area. “They have met no resistance from Djibouti’s forces.”


S.Korea official says US-N.Korea dialogue seen starting soon

Updated 43 min 17 sec ago

S.Korea official says US-N.Korea dialogue seen starting soon

  • South Korea will hold a meeting with Japan to discuss intelligence-sharing pact
  • The agreement will expire on August 24

SEOUL: The United States and North Korea are expected to reopen denuclearization talks soon and it would “go well,” a senior South Korean official said on Thursday, boosting hopes for progress in negotiations after a prolonged stalemate.
South Korea’s deputy national security adviser Kim Hyun-chong gave his upbeat assessment after meeting with US envoy for North Korea Stephen Biegun in Seoul.
“My impression was that North Korea and the United States would carry out dialogue soon, and it would go well,” Kim told reporters after the one-hour meeting, without elaborating.
Working-level talks between the United States and North Korea have yet to restart since they were stalled by the failed second summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi in February.
Trump and Kim met again in June at the inter-Korean border and agreed to reopen negotiations.
The South Korean official also said that South Korea’s presidential National Security Council will convene later on Thursday to review an intelligence-sharing pact with Japan, that Seoul had threatened to scrap amid a spiralling diplomatic and trade spat.
The General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) could expire on Saturday if either side decides not to roll it over.
According to Kim, the South Korean official, Biegun raised the issue, which has worried Washington as the accord is instrumental in three-way efforts to counter North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats.
“I’ve told him we’ll carefully examine it and make a decision in a way that serves our national interest,” the South Korean deputy national security adviser said.