ASMARA (Reuters) - Eritrea's President Isaias Afwerki has said the continued presence of U.N. peacekeepers in the Red Sea state's border with arch-foe Ethiopia was illegal, government media reported on Saturday.
The United Nations has almost completely withdrawn some 1,700 troops and military observers from a buffer zone along the border between the two Horn of Africa countries after Asmara cut fuel supplies to its peacekeeping mission.
Eritrea said country-wide shortages had prompted the move.
"President Isaias underlined that the stationing of the peacekeeping mission in the border has no legal justification as the commission's ruling has already been virtually demarcated on the map," said the Eritrea Profile, a Ministry of Information newspaper.
In November, an independent boundary commission, set up by a peace deal ending Ethiopia and Eritrea's 1998-2000 border war, marked the 1,000 km (620 mile) frontier by map coordinates.
The United Nations extended the mandate of its mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea, known as UNMEE, for another six months in January. However, the mandate says UNMEE's continued presence is linked to the border demarcation.
Eritrea accepts the "virtual" demarcation of the border, and says Ethiopia should vacate its territory. Ethiopia calls the November decision "legal fiction".
Analysts say the U.N. extension was pushed through because of fears of a renewed conflict between the two neighbours. Both nations have said they will not start another war.
Asmara is angry with the world body for what it says is the U.N. failure to force Ethiopia to abide by the boundary commission's 2002 border ruling.
Human rights groups accuse both nations of using the border stalemate to clamp down on internal dissent.
The U.N. Security Council is expected to discuss the future of its UNMEE mission on Tuesday.