Obama back in US after Southeast Asia trip

Updated 22 November 2012
0

Obama back in US after Southeast Asia trip

WASHINGTON: President Barack Obama landed back on US soil early yesterday after his landmark visit to Myanmar and a three-day tour of Southeast Asia in which he attended a regional summit. The president arrived at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, near the US capital, at 12:30 am (5:30 GMT), said a reporter on Air Force One, and then made the short flight back to the White House on his Marine One helicopter.
The Asia trip was Obama's first foreign tour since being re-elected two weeks ago. He met Myanmar's feted democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Monday, becoming the first serving US president to visit the country formerly known as Burma, and praised its fledgling reform moves after decades of military rule.
And on Tuesday at the 18-nation East Asia Summit in Cambodia a senior Obama aide said the president raised concerns about China's sweeping claims to the South China Sea, which have rattled Southeast Asian countries.
Obama's visit to Cambodia was the final leg of a three-nation trip — he visited the Thai capital Bangkok on Sunday — aimed at deepening US influence in Southeast Asia.


Eritrea responds to Ethiopia PM’s olive branch

Updated 4 min 50 sec ago
0

Eritrea responds to Ethiopia PM’s olive branch

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.