U.S. says Somalia must not be proxy war for others

October 31st, 2006 Print Print Email Email

WASHINGTON, Oct 30 (Reuters) – Somalia must not become a proxy battleground for warring neighbors Ethiopia and Eritrea, a senior U.S. official said on Monday as he urged Islamists to join talks with Somalia’s weak interim government.Fears of a regional war are rising due to Ethiopia’s support of Somalia’s interim government and Eritrea’s apparent backing of the Islamists, who control the capital Mogadishu and are gaining more ground in the lawless Horn of Africa state.

U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Ethiopia and Eritrea, rivals involved in a border dispute, must take steps not to escalate tensions in Somalia.

“(I) would hope that states not try to use Somalia as a proxy for any of their disputes. It would be rather unfortunate for Somalia, as well as other countries in the region,” said McCormack.

“We do have concerns about some other countries, outside countries involved in Somalia; various troop activities,” he added, without providing details.

The Islamists have accused Ethiopia of sending in troops to protect the interim government and declared holy war against Ethiopia this month. Addis Ababa denies any incursion and says its only contribution was several hundred armed military trainers.

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