WASHINGTON (AP) â€” President Clinton said the agreement by Ethiopia and Eritrea to cease hostilities in their border war is a ``breakthrough'' and he hopes the two countries can ``realize their potential in peace instead of squandering it in war.''
The accord reached Sunday in Algeria after more than two weeks of talks does not bring a definitive end to the 25 months of fighting that has left thousands of dead in the Horn of Africa. It does allow a reprieve while negotiators delineate the bitterly disputed frontier.
``This is a breakthrough which can, and should end the tragic conflict in the Horn of Africa,'' Clinton said in a statement Sunday. ``It can, and should permit these two countries to realize their potential in peace, instead of squandering it in war.''
The president said he hopes their agreement to end the fighting ``also signals their commitment to build the peace.''
Ethiopia and Eritrea should use the next round of talks to produce ``a final, comprehensive, lasting agreement, so they can get on with the work of pursuing democracy and development for their people,'' Clinton said.
``Ethiopia and Eritrea are America's friends. If they are ready to take the next step, we and our partners in the international community will walk with them.''
Clinton said he has asked his special envoy to the talks, former national security adviser Anthony Lake, to return to Algiers to work with the Organization of African Unity, which mediated the accord, on the next round of negotiations