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Blinken asks Ethiopia to strengthen peace on first post-war visit

ADDIS ABABA — US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday urged Ethiopia to “deepen peace in its war-torn north” as he announced a $331 million aid package aimed at the country during a visit to restore the shattered relations between the two US. year conflict.

The top US diplomat paid the long-time ally his first visit since the end of the war in Tigray, which US estimates killed 500,000 and prompted Washington to end trade preferences with Africa’s second most populous nation.

As China and Russia increasingly seek influence in Ethiopia and across the continent, Blinken opened his visit by expressing hope for better relations while sipping Ethiopia’s famous coffee at the Foreign Ministry.

“It’s a very important moment, a moment of hope as peace has settled in the north,” Blinken said.

“There is much to do. The most important thing is probably to deepen the peace that has taken hold in the north.”

Blinken, who claims crimes against humanity were committed during the war, said his goal is to “strengthen ties” with Ethiopia, home of the African Union, while US President Joe Biden is pushing for closer ties with African nations .

Blinken later met with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who wrote on Twitter that the two “agreed to strengthen longstanding bilateral ties (between) our countries with a commitment to partnership” during the closed-door talks.

– ‘Life Saving Support’ –

Later in the day, Blinken announced more than $331 million in new humanitarian aid to Ethiopia, which is also grappling with a record drought in its southern and south-eastern regions.

“This funding will provide life-saving assistance to those displaced and affected by conflict, drought and food insecurity in Ethiopia,” Blinken said while touring a UN logistics center in Addis Ababa for food aid.

The new aid, which brings total U.S. humanitarian assistance to Ethiopia in U.S. fiscal year 2023 to more than $780 million, is “intended for everyone — not one group or region,” Blinken told reporters.

“We want to make sure those who need help get that help.”

Blinken walked past packaged split peas and vegetable oil donated by the United States and pointedly at wheat donated by Ukraine, with the invading nation’s flag emblazoned on the sacks, while Washington urged Russia to renew a grain export deal.

– demands accountability –

Abiy, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, was once seen as the vanguard of a new generation of forward-thinking African leaders, but his reputation in Washington was tarnished by the Tigray War.

Violence erupted when the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which once dominated Ethiopian politics, attacked military installations, sparking a major offensive by the Abiys government, backed by neighboring Eritrea.

The TPLF was about to march on the capital but, repelled by pro-Abiy forces, agreed to disarm under a Nov. 2 deal negotiated in South Africa by the African Union with US participation .

A key Ethiopia goal is a return to the African Growth and Opportunity Act, US legislation that gave it duty-free access for most products to the world’s largest economy, but Washington has made no commitments.

Abiy has pledged to restore basic services in war-torn Tigray, although restrictions on media access make it impossible to assess the situation on the ground.

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have both called on Blinken to push for full implementation of the peace agreement and accountability for past human rights abuses.

“Failing to do so will send a signal to perpetrators everywhere that the US will not stand up for justice,” said Kate Hixon, Amnesty’s Africa Advocacy Director.

The Tigray War was one of the deadliest of the 21st century, with a US-estimated higher death toll than the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which has garnered far more global attention.

Moscow has launched a diplomatic offensive in Africa, including Ethiopia, hoping the continent will remain neutral rather than join Western sanctions against it.

Russia’s efforts follow years of China’s forays into Africa, which has also offered the continent’s leaders relationships unencumbered by Western pressures on human rights.

Source: Crypto News Deutsch

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