Ethiopia warns of action against Eritrea

By Dilwenberu Nega
March. 19 2011

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - Ethiopia warned on Saturday it would take "all measures necessary" against Eritrea, in a rare threat of direct action against a neighbour it routinely accuses of supporting rebel groups.

Ethiopia and Eritrea have often traded tough rhetoric since a 1998-2000 border war killed some 80,000 people, but Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has up to now ruled out confrontation.

"What we are saying is that we will not sit idle and watch Eritrea challenge our sovereignty and our development efforts," foreign ministry spokesman Dina Mufti told Reuters.

Ethiopia claims Eritrea is trying to destabilise the Horn of African nation by backing rebels, while also supporting Islamist militants in Somalia. The Ethiopian government usually says it is content to keep security tight at home to deter attacks.

Eritrea fiercely denies the charges and accuses Western nations of siding with Ethiopia over the unresolved border row.

Dina accused Eritrea of attempting to carry out attacks inside Ethiopia during an African Union summit in February and said Addis Ababa was asking the international community to pressure Asmara into "refraining" from such moves.

"If they (international community) don't heed, then we will take all measures necessary to defend ourselves," he said.