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News: US says immediate cessation of hostilities priority to end “this destabilizing conflict” as AU announces launch of peace talks in South Africa

AU-led Ethiopia peace talk facilitators. From left: Olusegun Obasanjo, Dr Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and Uhuru Kenyatta

Addis Ababa: The US says it welcomes the start of AU-led peace talks between the government of Ethiopia and Tigrayan regional authorities while urging the delegations “to engage seriously to reach a lasting resolution to this conflict” and that immediate cessation of hostilities was essential “as a first priority.”

In a statement released on Tuesday secretary of state Antony Blinken said  “as a first priority, it is essential to achieve an immediate cessation of hostilities.”  The US also repeated its call on the delegations to agree on unhindered delivery of humanitarian assistance to all those in need, measures to protect civilians, and Eritrea’s withdrawal from northern Ethiopia.”

In addition to his earlier phone calls to Kenya’s President, William Ruto, and South Africa’s Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Naledi Pandor, Secretary Blinken said he also spoke with “Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy to convey the urgency of ending this conflict now,”  and that he will continue to consult with the AU on forging a political resolution to this “destabilizing conflict.”

“There is no military solution to this conflict, and these talks represent the most promising way to achieve lasting peace and prosperity for all Ethiopians,” Secretary Blinken

This comes shortly after the African Union formally announced the launch of the first direct talks between the the federal government and Tigrayan authorities under its auspices since the start of the war in November 2020.

Chairperson of the AU Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat said he is “encouraged by the early demonstration of commitment to peace by the parties and to seek a lasting political solution to the conflict in the supreme interest of Ethiopia”.

The Chairperson has on 15 October called for “an immediate, unconditional ceasefire and resumption of humanitarian services” in the Tigray region, which was welcomed by the Tigray regional state authorities who said they “are ready to abide by an immediate cessation of hostilities.”

Speaking to France 24 on Monday, Dr. Aklilu Hailemichael, TPLF’s official representative for Europe, said that Tigray expects result from the peace talks in four areas: unconditional and immediate cessation of hostilities, unfettered humanitarian access to the people of Tigray including in areas controlled by the allied forces and the the Tigray government, access to international human rights institutions as well as media to Tigray and the withdrawal of Eritrean forces from Tigray.

The peace talks is scheduled to end on Sunday 30 October, according to Vincent Magwenya, spokesman for Cyril Ramaphosa, South Africa’s president. The talks are being facilitated by Olusegun Obasanjo, the AU High Representative for the Horn of Africa, along with former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and former Deputy President of South Africa Dr Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.

Representatives of IGAD, UN and the US are participating in the talks as observers, according to AU’s statement. AS

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