Ethiopian troops began moving back from the tense border with Eritrea as a United Nations deadline for both sides to pull soldiers back by midnight on Friday drew near, a U.N. source said.
The U.N. Security Council set the deadline in November, when it ordered the Horn of Africa neighbors to reduce troop levels at the frontier, scene of a 1998-2000 border war that killed 70,000, and threatened economic sanctions if they did not obey.
Tension has risen as Ethiopia has failed to accept a binding ruling that awarded Eritrea a disputed town. Eritrea has grown angrier by the day at the United Nations and the international community for not enforcing the legally binding agreement.
"Ethiopia has started moving troops from the border in compliance with the U.N. Security Council resolution," a source with the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea told Reuters in Addis Ababa.
The resolution orders both countries to reduce the number of troops facing each other across a U.N.-enforced buffer zone to the levels of December 2004.
It also orders Eritrea to lift its ban on U.N. helicopter patrols in the zone and other peacekeeping operations.