The United States said Wednesday it remained "strongly supportive" of the attempt by the Organization of African Unity to bring to an end the border conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea.
"The United States remains strongly supportive of the OAU and its current chair, Algerian President (Abdelaziz) Bouteflika," acting State Department spokesman Philip Reeker said in a statement.
He added that US officials were "working hard to encourage and assist" Ethiopia and Eritrea in moving to end the conflict as quickly as possible.
"The United States once again calls upon the governments of Eritrea and Ethiopia to return to their positions as of May 6, 1998; to end the fighting; and to negotiate the implementation of the OAU's Framework Agreement and Modalities," to achieve a final settlement, Reeker said.
Earlier Wednesday, Eritrea's foreign ministry said in a statement received at the United Nations in New York that it would pull its forces back to positions they held before war with Ethiopia first broke out in 1998.
It said the withdrawal would begin at midnight Thursday and that it was ready to resume peace talks under auspices of the OAU in Algiers.
No Ethiopian reaction to Asmara's move was immediately available.
The Eritrean statement followed intense peace efforts by Bouteflika, who was in Addis Ababa on Wednesday for a long meeting with Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.
The OAU called on both sides to resume the peace negotiations that broke down in Algiers on May 5, but to first pull their troops back to positions held before hostilities first broke out on May 6, 1998.
As per the second text of the OAU plan, the Modalities for Implementation -- to which both have agreed -- Eritrea should do this first, and then Ethiopia -- WASHINGTON (AFP)
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