Eritrea rejects Clinton criticism over Somalia..



Halkaan ka akhri

* Says U.S. arms shipments stoke violence

* Eritrea not fazed by U.S. warning

By Jeremy Clarke

NAIROBI, Aug 7, 2009 – 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 Mogadishu.

“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.

Source: Reuters

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