Ethiopia Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said Saturday for the first time he was ready to hold direct talks with Eritrean President Isiayas Afwerki on resolving the countries' long-running border dispute.
"I have no problem of talking to anybody, so long as it serves the purpose of peace, democracy and development in Ethiopia," Meles said. "We are prepared to talk to anybody ... We are not selective about who to meet or how."
Ethiopia has said in the past it wants to talk to Eritrea about the boundary dispute, but this is the first time Meles has offered to speak with Isiayas on the subject.
Eritrea, however, insists that a decision by the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission - part of the Permanent Court of Arbitration based in The Hague, Netherlands - be implemented before any talks with Ethiopia.
Ethiopia has refused to accept the commission's decision, objecting to the awarding of the disputed town of Badme to Eritrea.