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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release December 7, 2000


Ethiopia and Eritrea have accepted the invitation of Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to sign a final peace agreement in Algiers on December 12, building on a Cessation of Hostilities Agreement brokered by the United States and the Organization of African Unity last June.

Last week, I was able to inform both Prime Minister Meles and President Isaias that each leader had confirmed to me his acceptance of the text of a final peace agreement. All who have worked for this peace, and all who were moved by the costs of the war, congratulate the Ethiopian and Eritrean leadership and people for achieving this breakthrough.

This agreement ends the biggest conventional war in the world in recent years, in what may be the world's poorest region. It should permit these two countries to realize their potential in peace, instead of squandering it in war. It should free both countries to concentrate on meeting their people's aspirations for democracy and development, as their leaders have pledged to do. The United States stands ready to work with both countries to consolidate the peace and accelerate their return to the urgent task of economic development.

More than two years of effort by the United States and the Organization of African Unity went into reaching this final agreement. I want to thank my Special Envoy, former National Security Advisor Anthony Lake; Gayle Smith of the National Security Council; and Assistant Secretary Susan Rice for their untiring commitment and selfless dedication to the task. I also wish to extend my personal gratitude and congratulations to President Bouteflika of Algeria and his entire mediation team.