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UN Security Council hails Eritrea-Ethiopia detente, mulls lifting Eritrea sanctions

2018-07-11 06:36:51 (Beijing Time)         news.xinhuanet.com

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UNITED NATIONS, July 10 (Xinhua) -- The Security Council on Tuesday welcomed the decision of Eritrea and Ethiopia to end the state of war between them and build peace.

The members of the Security Council commended the signing of the Joint Declaration of Peace and Friendship on Monday and welcomed the commitment by both parties to resume diplomatic ties and open a new chapter of cooperation and partnership, said the council in a press statement.

This represents a historic and significant development with far-reaching positive consequences for the Horn of Africa and beyond, said the statement.

The council members welcomed the commitment of Eritrea and Ethiopia to jointly endeavor to ensure regional peace, development and cooperation and look forward to Eritrea's active participation in the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), a regional trade bloc.

Eritrea withdrew from IGAD in 2007, but was re-admitted in 2011.

The members of the Security Council recognized the call in the Joint Declaration for solidarity and support, and encouraged all actors to offer their support to the peace process. The members of the Security Council stand ready to support Eritrea and Ethiopia in their implementation of the Joint Declaration, said the statement.

The Security Council will be discussing the lifting of sanctions against Eritrea thanks to the latest developments, diplomats said Tuesday.

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom, whose country holds the presidency of the Security Council for July, said she hoped the lifting of sanctions against the Horn of Africa country will "happen shortly."

"I join the (UN) secretary-general, who says if the reasons for introducing sanctions are removed, then also the sanctions of course could be removed," Wallstrom, who was at UN headquarters to chair a Security Council debate, told reporters.

Asked how soon the sanctions could be lifted, she said: "We are looking at that -- whether we can even introduce it as quickly as possible during our presidency (within July) or what will be the right time. We will have to check what is happening on the ground."

She expressed the hope that the Security Council could make a decision with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres returning from Addis Ababa on Tuesday with fresh impression of the situation on the ground.

She said the lifting of sanctions against Eritrea would be "fantastic." "It means something for the whole Horn of Africa region," she said.

Dutch ambassador to the United Nations, Karel van Oosterom, also confirmed on Tuesday that there might be discussions at the Security Council about the lifting of sanctions against Eritrea.

Swedish UN ambassador Olof Skoog told his EU colleagues at the Security Council on Tuesday that his country was in contact with both Ethiopia and Eritrea, according to van Oosterom.

The Security Council imposed sanctions in 2009 on Eritrea, including an arms embargo, for its destabilizing role in neighboring countries.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Monday handed a letter to Guterres in Addis Ababa, requesting the lifting of sanctions against Eritrea. Guterres said the sanctions will naturally become obsolete if the reasons that led to them no longer exist.

Eritrea gained independence from Ethiopia in 1993 and the two countries fought a war between 1998 and 2000. Although they signed a peace agreement in December 2000, tensions continued. Leaders of the the two countries held a historic summit in the Eritrean capital of Asmara on Sunday and Monday and agreed to end hostilities and normalize relations.