Djibouti’s Foreign Minister:called on the Arab summit to back Djibouti’s position against Eritrea

By Khaled Mahmoud

Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat- Djibouti’s Foreign Minister Mahamoud Ali Youssouf has stated to Asharq Al-Awsat that Djibouti’s President Ismail Omar Guelleh will participate in the upcoming Arab summit scheduled for end of March in Libya.

In a telephone interview with Asharq Al-Awsat the Foreign Minister called on the Arab summit to back Djibouti’s position against Eritrea, and announced the end of the dispute with Libya which arose as a result of the latter’s opposition to imposing sanctions on Asmara over its aggressive policy toward Djibouti and Somalia.

In December of last year, Djibouti’s foreign minister told Asharq Al-Awsat that his country would not participate in the Arab summit because of what he regarded as Libya’s attempt to undermine the Arab higher interests after Libya, in its capacity as the only Arab member of the UN Security Council, refused to approve the UNSC resolution imposing political and economic sanctions on Eritrea because of its interference in the domestic affairs of neighboring Somalia.

However, Youssouf said that the dispute with Libya is over after Libyan Foreign Minister Musa Kusa’s visit to Djibouti and after “the explanation he made to us, we saw that it is in the interest of all parties to bypass this dispute and participate in the summit in solidarity with Libya and to contribute, as usual, to joint Arab action.”

Djibouti’s foreign minister pointed out that his country has no sensitivity over Libya’s relations with Eritrea against the background of the recent visit by Eritrean President Assias Afeworki to Libya and his meeting with Libyan leader Col Muammar al-Gaddafi. He said: “We have no problem with Libya’s relations with Eritrea; what is at issue for us is that Eritrea is in occupation of part of our territories and we have UN Security Council Resolution 1907. All that we seek is to have this resolution implemented and secure Eritrea’s withdrawal of its forces from our territory.”

Djibouti’s foreign minister added: “Right from the beginning, we called and still call and appeal to Eritrea to start a dialogue with us; the door for dialogue is still open provided that Eritrea withdraws its forces from our territory and solve the dispute through arbitration. Once that issue is solved we have no problems with Eritrea.”

Asked if there is a Libyan mediation effort to resolve the dispute with Eritrea, Djibouti’s foreign minister said: “As yet, we have not been notified of any attempt at mediation, but if there is any Arab mediation effort to solve the dispute, we have no objection. However, any dialogue or negotiations should begin with withdrawing the Eritrean forces from our territories. For our part, we withdrew our forces a year and a half ago. We welcome any Arab or non-Arab intercession to solve the problem with Eritrea.”

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