Sudan and Ethiopia trade accusations in escalating border conflict…

Reuters . Sat, February 20, 2021, 12:06 PM
KHARTOUM, Feb 20 (Reuters) – Sudan on Saturday accusedEthiopia of an “unforgivable insult” in its sharpest statementsince a decades-old border dispute flared late last year.

Clashes erupted between Sudanese and Ethiopian forces overAl-Fashqa, an area of fertile land settled by Ethiopian farmersthat Sudan says lies on its side of a border demarcated at thestart of the 20th century, which Ethiopia rejects.

In a statement on Thursday, Ethiopia’s foreign ministry saidit believes “the conflict being trumpeted by the Sudanesegovernment’s military wing could only serve the interests of athird party at the expense of the Sudanese people.”

Sudan’s foreign ministry responded on Saturday by saying”slander towards Sudan and accusation of being an agent forother parties is a grave and unforgivable insult.”

It added: “What the Ethiopian foreign ministry cannot denyis the third party whose troops entered with Ethiopian troopstrespassing on Sudanese land.”

Earlier this week, Sudan accused Ethiopian troops ofcrossing the border after a similar act by Ethiopian aircraftlast month, both of which Ethiopia denied.

Ethiopia on Thursday reiterated its accusation that Sudanhad invaded in early November, attacked and displaced Ethiopiansand took control of vacated military camps.

In its statement, Sudan said that Ethiopia had affirmed the1903 border agreement several times, most recently in 2013.

It accused Ethiopia’s foreign ministry of “exploiting (theborder issue) for personal interests and for the specificinterests of a certain group.”

Both countries called on each other to pursue legal means toresolve the border issues.

An African Union mediator arrived in Khartoum on Thursday todiscuss the conflict, as well as the ongoing negotiationsbetween Sudan, Egypt, and Ethiopia over the Grand EthiopianRenaissance Dam.

Ethiopian foreign ministry official spokesman Dina Mufti,state minister of foreign affairs Redwan Hussein and PrimeMinister Abiy Ahmed’s spokeswoman Billene Seyoum did notimmediately respond to requests for comment on Saturday.

(Reporting by Khalid Abdelaziz; Additional reporting by Nairobinewsroom; Writing by Nafisa Eltahir; Editing by Mike Harrison)

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