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US commander in talks on fighting terror

Chief of the US Central Command, General Tommy Franks, left Asmara on Thursday at the end of a two-day visit to Eritrea, local media reports said on Friday.

According to Eritrean radio and the pro-government Shaebia website, he held talks on the fight against terrorism with top officials including President Isayas Afewerki and Defence Minister Sebhat Ephrem.

Isayas told the general that Eritrea had been a victim of terrorism for the past 10 years and its support for the fight against terror "emanates from its national interest". He said Eritrea had, from the outset, backed steps taken by the US in Afghanistan after the 11 September attacks. Eritrean radio quoted Franks as saying the similar stance of the two countries against terrorism would boost bilateral ties.

Defence Minister Sebhat Ephrem said Eritrea was "ready as ever to cooperate for peace and stability" in the region, and stressed it was prepared to "contribute anything" to this end. In an interview with the BBC on Thursday, Sebhat said the US was welcome to use Eritrean facilities.

Official Eritrean sources told IRIN that relations between the US and Eritrea were good. "The Americans have tried to put a stop to the war between Ethiopia and Eritrea," one source said. "Now that there are hopes the war is over, the Americans may be more forthcoming in their relationship with Eritrea as they know they have a reliable ally against Islamic fundamentalist terror."

Next month, an independent Boundary Commission will rule on where the border lies between Ethiopia and Eritrea, in the hope of putting an end to the border dispute which triggered a bloody two-year war between the countries in 1998.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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