, UNITED NATIONS, June 9 – UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday welcomed an agreement by Eritrea and Djibouti to accept Qatar\’s mediation to resolve their festering border dispute.
A UN statement said Ban, who is currently on a visit to South Africa, "welcomes the agreement signed by Eritrea and Djibouti, under the auspices of the State of Qatar, to resolve through a negotiated settlement" their border conflict which erupted in March 2008.
"The Secretary-General is encouraged by this positive development which he believes will contribute to long-term peace and stability in the Horn of Africa region," the statement noted.
The agreement entrusts Qatar with establishing a mechanism for the resolution of the border dispute and the normalization of relations between the two countries.
Doha said on Monday that Eritrean troops had withdrawn from an area they controlled in Djibouti as a result of its mediation bid.
The Qatari mediation provides for the formation of a committee empowered to appoint an international firm to demarcate the border, with Eritrea and Djibouti\’s consent, according to the official Qatari news agency QNA.
A Qatari observation force is tasked with monitoring the border between the two countries "until the conclusion of a final agreement on settling the conflict," QNA reported.
The force, made up of about 20 soldiers, arrived in Djibouti on Friday, according to Djibouti press reports.
The long-running border row between Djibouti and Eritrea over the disputed Ras Doumeira promontory on the shores of the Red Sea led to clashes in 1996, 1999 and again in 2008.