U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken will begin a visit to Ethiopia on Tuesday to discuss peace efforts to end the civil war that has destabilized relations between the two countries, after which he will travel to Niger in his first visit to the country, which Washington is betting on to ward off the dangers of armed groups in the Sahel region. Blinken to Ethiopia, Niger in bid to make America ‘preferred partner’:
Blinken to Ethiopia, Niger in bid to make America ‘preferred partner’.
The visit comes in the wake of the U.S. reformulation of its global policy in Africa, as it intends to counter the Russian and Chinese presence by becoming Africa’s “preferred partner” and developing non-military methods against terrorism.
Blinken said in a tweet that he was visiting Ethiopia and Niger “to discuss shared global and regional priorities.”
Blinken gave a continental dimension to his visit, noting that his country sees “African countries as critical partners in food security, climate crisis, global health, human rights and peace,” adding that these countries “deserve greater representation in global institutions.”
Relations with Ethiopia
In Addis Ababa on Wednesday and Thursday, Blinken will hold talks on the implementation of the Nov. 2 peace agreement in Tigray, and humanitarian partners and civil society actors will meet to discuss food security and human rights, according to a statement from the U.S. State Department.
The peace agreement was reached after two years of war between the Ethiopian government and Tigrayan rebels, who have devastated the northern Ethiopian region.
Ethiopia was considered a powerful ally of the West until the outbreak of the conflict in the northern Tigray region in November 2020, when Washington imposed sanctions on Ethiopia for what it called “atrocities” in the Tigray region.
The U.S. State Department said in exclusive statements to FLA from the U.S. capital, Washington, that “the Renaissance Dam issue will be at the top of Secretary of State Anthony Blinken’s discussions in Ethiopia.”
The office added: “Secretary Blinken will have the opportunity to discuss the Renaissance Dam issue with the Ethiopian government during his stay in Addis Ababa”.
He explained that “the U.S. Secretary of State has already discussed the Renaissance Dam issue with Egyptian officials during his visit to Cairo in January, and Ambassador Mike Hammer, the U.S. Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa, is in the region as part of U.S. efforts to follow up on the Renaissance Dam issue.
In response to a question about whether there are any new U.S. initiatives to resolve the stalled negotiations between Cairo, Khartoum, and Addis Ababa over the dam, the U.S. State Department responded to FLA by stating that “Washington remains actively engaged diplomatically in supporting efforts to reach an agreement on the Renaissance Dam under the auspices of the Union. African countries that will advance the interests of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan.
He referred to “the presence of the U.S. envoy to the Horn of Africa, Ambassador Mike Hammer, in the region, as part of the U.S. efforts in the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam file.”
On the agenda for Blinken’s visit to the region, an earlier statement from the U.S. State Department said he “will travel to the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, to discuss the implementation of the cessation of hostilities agreement to consolidate peace and promote transitional justice in northern Ethiopia.”