The US will not choose sides in the conflict in Ethiopia, a senior Biden administration official says. “It’s hard to know how long this relatively constructive phase will last,” he says of talks with Ethiopian President Abdi Fitsum Ahanle Meles Zenawi.
Speaking to reporters after a phone call earlier in the day between US President Joe Biden and Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the senior US official said it was Biden that requested the call.
“The crisis Ethiopia has been very challenging for the United States from before this administration took office, but certainly through the entirety of our tenure up until now,” the official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said.
The humanitarian crisis “is particularly acute,” the official said, pointing out the security crisis, which was being exacerbated by outsides states.
Eritrea continues to play a “particularly unhelpful role,” the official said. “Suffice it to say, we still believe that [Eritrea’s] role is unhelpful, and they should, frankly, stay out of this conflict.”
As for hopes of reaching a peaceful solution to the conflict, the official said there were encouraging signs recently, including the release of political prisoners.
“We do see this as a moment of opportunity, if the parties are willing and able to seize it. That remains to be seen and this window won’t be open forever,” he said.
The official said that pledges concerning the humanitarian crisis and allowing access to more humanitarian aid have also been positive.
But the official spoke with cautious optimism.
“Given what we’ve seen in the past, it’s hard to know how long this relatively constructive phase will last,” he said.
The US will not choose sides, and it will continue to push for dialogue. “We’re not choosing sides or putting our thumb on the scale,” the official said.
Goverment airstrikes need to be stopped, the official said, referring to an uptick in aerial bombardment in Tigray.
The US recently appointed a new special envoy for the Horn of Africa following the resignation of Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman.
The official said that the Ethiopian government requested Jeffrey Feltman’s visit to Addis Ababa.