Eritrea responds to Ethiopia PM’s olive branch

Eritrea's President Isaias Afwerki listens as he meets with Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir during his official visit in Khartoum, Sudan June 11, 2015. (Reuters)
Updated 20 June 2018
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Eritrea responds to Ethiopia PM’s olive branch

  • Eritrea and Ethiopia remain bitter foes after a 1998-2000 conflict that drew comparisons to the First World War
  • Even after the end of the war, the border remains heavily militarised and disputed

ADDIS ABABA: Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki is dispatching a delegation to Addis Ababa for “constructive engagement” with arch-foe Ethiopia after peace overtures this month from its new Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, a senior Eritrean diplomat said on Wednesday.
Isais made the annoucement — a potentially significant breakthrough in one of Africa’s most protracted conflicts — earlier on Wednesday, Eritrea’s ambassador to Japan, Estifanos Afeworki, said on Twitter. He gave no further details.
Eritrean information minister Yemane Ghebremeskel did not respond to requests for comment.
Eritrea and Ethiopia remain bitter foes after a 1998-2000 conflict that drew comparisons to the First World War, with waves of conscripts forced to march through minefields toward Eritrean trenches, where they were cut down by machine gun fire.
Casuality figures are disputed in both countries although most estimates suggest 50,000 Ethiopian soldiers died, against 20,000 on the Eritrean side.
Even after the end of the war, the border remains heavily militarised and disputed, most notably the town of Badme which was part of Eritrea, according to a 2002 international arbitration ruling.
Since then, Addis has ignored the ruling and refused to pull out troops or officials, to the fury of Asmara.
However, Abiy, a 41-year-old former soldier who has embarked on a radical economic and political reform drive since taking over in March, stunned Ethiopians this month when he said Addis would honor all the terms of the settlement between the two countries, suggesting he was prepared to cede Badme.
In parliament this week, Abiy also acknoewledged the tensions continued to inflict a heavy economic cost on both countries and said Addis should no longer hide this price tag from the Ethiopian people, another stunning departure with the past.
There has so far been no official response to Abiy’s overtures from Eritrea, one of the Africa’s most closed states.


Trump aide’s ‘Russia ties’ alleged in secret US documents

Updated 25 min 35 sec ago
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Trump aide’s ‘Russia ties’ alleged in secret US documents

  • The FBI believed that a former Trump campaign adviser had ties to Russia
  • Trump defied his own FBI director and the Justice Department to declassify a Republican document

WASHINGTON: The FBI believed that a former Trump campaign adviser had ties to Russia as it sought to influence the 2016 US presidential election, top secret documents released to US news organizations revealed on Saturday.
The October, 2016 application to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court named Carter Page, a former foreign policy adviser to the campaign of Donald Trump, according to the documents which The New York Times published.
The newspaper, along with USA Today and others, filed Freedom of Information Act lawsuits to obtain the material, which the Justice Department released but with many details redacted.
“The FBI believes Page has been the subject of targeted recruitment by the Russian government,” the initial FBI application says before it is blacked out and continues: “undermine and influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election in violation of US criminal law.”
Release of the documents comes just over one week after Special Counsel Robert Mueller, probing possible collusion between Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia, indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers, accusing them of hacking Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton’s campaign to steal documents, which were then publicly released.
The surveillance of Page became in February the subject of intense rivalry between Republican and Democratic lawmakers.
The former, from Trump’s party, released a memo claiming that Democratic-funded research prompted the FBI to spy on Page.
Trump defied his own FBI director and the Justice Department to declassify the four-page Republican document, which was based on the much larger secret court application record which has now been released.
The White House initially blocked release of a counter-memo from the Democrats, which argued the surveillance warrant request “was based on compelling evidence and probable cause.”
In the documents released Saturday, the FBI cited a source which, it said, had a history of providing reliable information regardless of the source’s reasons for conducting research into Trump’s ties to Russia.
Trump is not named in the document but identified only as “Candidate #1.”
A judge approved the initial wiretapping application, which was renewed three times by other judges, The New York Times said.
The FBI, in its initial application the month before Trump won the election, said it “believes that the Russian Government’s efforts are being coordinated with Page and perhaps other individuals associated with Candidate #1’s campaign.”
It added that “Page has established relationships with Russian Government officials, including Russian intelligence officers.”
Page has not been charged. On Twitter Saturday he said the documents reflect “shocking” civil rights abuses and “complete ignorance” regarding Russia.