From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Fri Aug 07 2009 - 08:42:09 EDT
INTERVIEW-Eritrea rejects Clinton criticism over Somalia
Fri Aug 7, 2009 12:24pm GMT
* Says U.S. arms shipments stoke violence
* Eritrea not fazed by U.S. warning
By Jeremy Clarke
NAIROBI, Aug 7 (Reuters) - Eritrea reacted angrily on Friday to U.S.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's accusations that it was destabilising
the region and backing rebels in Somalia.
Speaking after meeting the Somali president in Kenya on Thursday, Clinton
warned Washington would take action against Asmara if it did not stop its
"unacceptable" support for Somali insurgents including the al Shabaab group.
But Eritrea's Information Minister Ali Abdu said it was the United States,
not Asmara, that threatened to ignite more violence in the volatile Horn of
Africa nation by providing extensive military aid to the government in
"The United States has given Somalia 40 tonnes of weapons and ammunition. Do
they think the situation is helped by imposing the power of fire?" Ali said
in a telephone interview.
"The situation in Somalia is being complicated by external influence. The
United States should stop meddling in the affairs of the Somali people."
Western security agencies say Somalia is a haven for militants planning
attacks in the region and beyond.
Australian police said this week they had uncovered a plot to attack a
Sydney army base by men they said had links to al Shabaab, which Washington
says is al Qaeda's proxy in Somalia.
Ali said Asmara was unmoved by Clinton's warning.
"We do not care about the U.S. threat at all. We care only about doing the
right thing," he told Reuters. Eritrea routinely denies all charges that it
arms or funds Somali insurgents.
Violence in Somalia has killed more than 18,000 people since the start of
2007 and uprooted another 1 million.
(Editing by Daniel Wallis and Michael Roddy)
C Thomson Reuters 2009 All rights reserved
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