The Ethiopian Ambassador to Kenya has ruled out the involvement of any Cuban troops in Eritrea, as in Ethiopia's Ogaden war against Somali forces last March.
CU Ethiopian Ambassador Mengiste Desta speaking in English
MENGISTE DESTA: "In the first place, the problem of Eritrea is a purely domestic affair of Ethiopia. As such, no country, organisation or mass media can arrogate to itself the right to interfere in the interfere in the internal affairs of a sovereign state. The propaganda warfare has concentrated on the alleged involvement of Cubans and Russians in conflict in Eritrea. While this has been concocted to justify the internationalisation of an otherwise purely domestic issue, the government of Ethiopia owes no explanation to any power or organisation about the presence of foreign personnel who are in the country at the invitation of the legitimate government of Socialist Ethiopia. The massive assistance channelled to the secessionist forces by reactionary Arab regimes is designed to deprive Ethiopia of her sea coast, it being understood that Ethiopia is the only non-Arab African state bordering the Red Sea -- and make it possible for such Arab regimes to realise their long cherished dream of converting the Red Sea into an "Arab Lake". By thus aiding and abetting those who seek to dismember Ethiopia, reactionary Arab regimes in collusion with international imperialism are guilty of committing collective aggression against the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ethiopia."
Reuters News Agency quoted diplomatic sources as saying the number of Cubans in Eritrea varied from several hundred to 3,000. They were said to be performing police duties in Asmara, the Provincial capital of Eritrea, to enable Ethiopian troops to get into the field and out of their garrisons to take part in bombing missions over the province. The United States estimates that there are some 17,000 Cubans in Ethiopia. The diplomatic sources said up to half of the Cuban force was used as an armoured spearhead in routing the Somali army in the Ogaden in March after months of Ethiopian reverses there.
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Background: The Ethiopian Ambassador to Kenya has ruled out the involvement of any Cuban troops in Eritrea, as in Ethiopia's Ogaden war against Somali forces last March. The Ambassador, Mr. Mengiste Desta, said on Friday (2 June) that the Ethiopian Government's campaign in Eritrea would not be as big as the offensive in the Ogaden. Mr. Mengiste's comments were made after he held a news conference on the current situation in Northern Ethiopia. It was the first time an Ethiopian official had ruled out the possibility of a Cuban-led campaign in Eritrea where for 16 years secessionist forces have fought for autonomy from the Addis Ababa Government.