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Blinken to travel to Ethiopia, Niger next week


U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken hosts the 17th annual International Women of Courage Award Ceremony on International Women’s Day at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 8, 2023. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

WASHINGTON, March 10 (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to Ethiopia next week, the State Department said on Friday, as concerns linger over the implementation of the peace agreement following the conflict in the Tigray region that left tens of thousands dead and millions uprooted.

The visit, set as Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed works to reestablish himself on the world stage following the two-year Tigray war, comes as foreign troops remain within the region and bureaucratic hurdles hamper the humanitarian response.

Blinken will also visit Niger, a key U.S. security partner, during the trip, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement. It will be the first-ever visit to Niger by a U.S. secretary of state.

Africa has emerged as a focus for Washington as it aims to position itself as a partner to countries in the region amid competition with China, which has sought to expand its influence by funding infrastructure projects on the continent.

The visit to Addis Ababa and Niamey is one of a slew of high-level visits the Biden administration has planned to Africa this year.

Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Molly Phee told reporters Blinken is expected to meet with the leadership of the Ethiopian government and Tigrayans while in Ethiopia, where he will discuss the implementation of the ceasefire.

Phee said relations with Ethiopia were not back to normal following the “earth shattering” conflict.

“To put that relationship in a forward trajectory, we will continue to need steps by Ethiopia to help break the cycle of ethnic political violence that has set the country back for so many decades,” Phee said.


The Ethiopian government’s two-year conflict with forces in the northern Tigray region ended last November when the two sides signed a deal. Both sides blamed each other for widely documented atrocities, including massacres, rape and detentions without trial.

The war pitted the federal government and its allies against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the party that controlled Tigray.

Allegations of abuses, especially sexual violence, have persisted after the deal was signed, according to half a dozen humanitarians in the region.

Eritrean troops remain in several border areas while militia from neighboring Amhara region still occupy large swaths of territory in contested areas of western and southern Tigray, humanitarians said.

Their presence is seen as a key obstacle to the effective implementation of the deal.

Eritrean Information Minister Yemane Gebremeskel did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Gizachew Muluneh, spokesperson for the Amhara regional government, said it and the people of Amhara were “always ready to co-operate with peace deal process and activities.”

Scarcity of cash and fuel are also hampering the delivery of food and medical supplies, humanitarians and diplomats said.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


Cameron Hudson, a U.S. Africa policy expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said Blinken’s trip comes as Ethiopia is lobbying the United States to restore debt relief and financial assistance as Ethiopia also deepens conversations with China.

“I think it’s the right moment to continue the diplomacy. I don’t think it’s the right moment to kind of declare mission accomplished in Ethiopia,” Hudson said.

While in Addis Ababa, Blinken will also meet with African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat.

The travel to Niger comes at a critical time for West Africa, where groups linked to Islamic State and al Qaeda continue to carry out routine attacks on civilians and the military despite costly interventions from international forces.

What began as a Mali-based insurgency in 2012 has since ballooned into a regional network of competing Islamist groups that operate across large areas of landlocked Niger, Burkina Faso and beyond.

The violence has killed thousands and displaced millions.

Blinken will meet President Mohamed Bazoum and Foreign Minister Hassoumi Massaoudou in Niamey to discuss diplomacy, democracy, development and defense, Price said.

Reporting By Paul Grant; Editing by Doina Chiacu

2 thoughts on “Blinken to travel to Ethiopia, Niger next week”

  1. This is excellent news. USA must keep engaging the regime back there and avoid the situation where it will fall prey to the predators in Moscow and Beijing. That had happened in the late 1970’s. Those two don’t care if human rights are trampled upon. They don’t a damn if human blood flows rivers. All they want is to prop of a servile regime so they can dump their junkies on that country. I wish H.E. Secretary Blinken all the best from such face to face engagement.

  2. Is Blinken still blinking?

    The only time Secretary Blinken cannot keep staring you in the eye is when you mention genocide, ethnic cleansing and crimes against the Amhara* people. When you mention atrocities against Amhara civilians that US embassy staff and other US civilian, military and intelligence personnel in Ethiopia document daily, Blinken starts blinking. He cannot stare you straight in the eye.

    That was said about him a long while ago. That was when Meaza Mohammed, now internationally celebrated journalist and White House March 8 Award recipient, used to be persecuted and ostracized for voicing her concern over the Amhara genocide. Then only half a million Amhara were displaced and only thousands were killed. Since then, just the number of Amhara IDPs not accounted for has exceeded 2 million and entire regions have been cleansed of ethnic Amhara. I am wondering if Secretary Blinken is still the same way. I am wondering if Blinken is still blinking when the victims of state-sponsored genocide are Amhara civilians.
    Would Blinken’s visit to Addis Ababa be to re-anoint Abiy Ahmed as US puppet supreme in the Horn or would Blinken be able to use the historic opportunity to exert the influence of his office for the observation of the human rights of all Ethiopian citizens and an end to persecution based on ethnicity and faith? Would Blinken choose to get dumped in the trash bin of history in the footsteps of Herman Cohen and the like or would he be able to do something that would redeem erroneous and tragic US involvement in the disintegration of Ethiopia?

    The next time Blinken visits Addis Ababa will be probably after the Grand Ethiopian Genocide and the concomitant destruction of Addis Ababa; unless something drastic is done to reverse the course of this 30-year journey of doom that the US State Department and other partners put the Ethiopian nation on.

    *The genocide against the Amhara started long before the PP-TPLF war in Tigray, continued during the war and even after the US sponsored PP-TPLF Pretoria deal ‘stopped’ the war.

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