NAIROBI, Kenya – (AP) – Ethiopia needs to make more progress implementing a peace deal with its northern Tigray region before relations with the United States can return to normal. Visit of Foreign Minister Antony Blinken Said Wednesday.
Speaking in Addis Ababa, Blinken said Ethiopia It must ensure that “no gross violations of human rights are taking place” and establish an “inclusive and credible” transitional justice process following two years of the Tigray conflict.
“Then our ability to move forward on our relationship with Ethiopia, including economic engagement, will go forward,” Blinken said after meeting with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and others.
Hundreds of thousands of people were killed in the Tigray conflict before a peace deal was signed in November. Communications, banking and other basic services in the region of more than 5 million people were cut off and only recently resumed.
out of concern for genocide, gang rape and other misbehavior by all parties In the fighting, the US imposed sanctions, restricted economic support to Ethiopia, and suspended the country’s membership in the African Development and Opportunity Act, a preferential trade agreement.
Ethiopia, facing a $20 billion post-conflict reconstruction bill, is eager to see economic and other aid from the US and others, but there are concerns about how the government will address widespread human rights abuses. The government has objected to the UN commission of inquiry and wants to freeze its funding.
“A lot has to be done,” Blinken told Ethiopia’s foreign minister, Demeke Mekonnen. “But the most important thing is to preserve the peace that has now taken hold in the north and to strengthen our ties as we move forward.”
Blinken also met with representatives of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front and announced $331 million in new humanitarian aid to Ethiopia.
Humanitarian organizations are now returning to Tigray, with many health centers damaged or destroyed, reports of hunger and a lack of medical supplies.
But the implementation of the peace deal has seen “significant movement in the right direction”, Blinken said.
A major challenge is the presence of troops from neighboring Eritrea, which was allied with the government of Ethiopia in the conflict and was not a party to the accord. Observers have said that Eritrea has pulled back in the border areas.
Ethiopian officials and Blinken also discussed a dispute with downstream Egypt over Ethiopia’s completion of Africa’s largest hydroelectric dam, according to the government.
Blinken is on a four-day visit to Africa which also includes Niger. He is scheduled to visit the African Union in Ethiopia on Thursday.
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