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US’s Blinken meets Ethiopian leaders to repair bilateral ties

March 15, 2023

Blinken’s trip is the latest in a series of visits to Africa by senior US officials as the US looks to reinforce ties with the continent amid competition from China and Russia.

By Daphne Psaledakis

ADDIS ABABA, March 15 (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was set to meet Ethiopia’s prime minister and foreign minister in Addis Ababa on Wednesday, as the two governments look to repair relations following friction over the two-year civil war in the Tigray region.

Blinken was due to begin his visit with talks with Foreign Minister Demeke Mekonnen and was also scheduled to meet Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and leaders of the Tigrayan forces that battled the federal government in the war in the northern region.

He will then head to the West African nation of Niger on Thursday, which has been confronting a growing Islamist insurgency.

His trip is the latest in a series of visits to Africa by senior U.S. officials as the Biden administration looks to reinforce ties with the continent amid competition from China.

The United States was outspoken in its criticism of alleged atrocities by Ethiopian forces and their allies during the Tigray war, which killed tens of thousands of people before a peace accord was reached last November.

The U.S. government imposed wide-ranging restrictions on economic and security assistance to Ethiopia and cut access to the U.S. African Growth and Opportunity Act, a duty-free trade program that has been a boon for the country’s textile sector.

Ethiopia, Africa’s second most populous nation and a traditional U.S. ally in East Africa, accused Washington of meddling in its internal affairs and threatened to reassess the bilateral relationship.

It has denied the most serious allegations of human rights violations during in the war.

In a press briefing this week, Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Molly Phee said getting U.S. relations with Ethiopia back to normal would require additional steps by the government to “break the cycle of ethnic political violence”.

Ethiopia is also looking to restructure its debt and secure an International Monetary Fund loan, which the state finance minister said last year was being delayed in part by the Tigray war.

While the peace deal has allowed humanitarian aid to flow into Tigray, needs remain immense after the conflict left hundreds of thousands facing starvation.

Allegation of abuses, especially sexual violence, have persisted after the deal was signed, according to rights groups and humanitarian workers in the region.

Eritrean troops remain in several border areas while militia from the neighbouring Amhara region occupy large areas of territory in contested parts of western and southern Tigray, humanitarian workers said.

Eritrea’s government spokesperson has not responded to requests for comment about the matter. A 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”. (Writing by Hereward Holland; Editing by Robert Birsel)

2 Comments

  1. If such deprivation of democratic rights continues it may qualify those who committed the crime to be referred to the International Criminal Court. These and those who committed gross crimes against humanity in the northern part of that country that includes Tigray, Afar and Amhara regions along with Oromia their time is up. They should be ordered to defend themselves at a special trial at the ICC. Even in our own tradition raping women is eligible for capital punishment. It has been reported that wholesale massacre of innocent citizens has been reported. Homes, public buildings, infrastructures and factories were turned into rubbles. The latest saddest story I heard is the Workers Association of that country could not find one standing factory and has not been able to locate anyone of its former members from the war devastated areas of Tigray and Amhara regions. Such abhorrent crimes should not be overlooked and those who perpetrated them should face the full weight of the local and international laws. I am glad to hear that such trials of criminals are being demanded by governments and humanitarian organization. For those of you who choose to remain oblivious about these crimes just think about it again as if your daughter was the one who was raped. How do you feel if it was your mother who was raped, if it was your auntie or grandma in her advanced age who was raped. Aha! Now you can feel it! You are so enraged now just imagining about it and screaming ‘I’m gonna …him’. Right? It has been reported that all sides involved in the conflict were part in the commission of these barbaric crimes. Human bodies and lives are blessed creations of The Almighty Our Creator. If the government does not start arresting and prosecuting the perpetrators in transparent fashion I call upon the ICC to start issuing arrest warrants for those criminals including those who are suspected of giving orders. Let’s go!!!

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Blinken praises Ethiopia on Tigray peace, no return to trade programme yet

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