Hailemariam Desalegn, Ethiopia’s prime minister, has said that he is willing to hold talks with neighbouring Eritrea, with whom Addis Ababa fought a border war that ended in 2000.
If Desalgen follows through with Wednesday’s statement, it will be the first time a leader in Addis Ababa has held talks with Issaias Afeworki, the Eritrean president, since the end of the conflict which left at least 70,000 people dead.
“If you ask me, ‘Do you want to go to Asmara and sit down and negotiate with Isaias Afwerki?’ Then, I will say yes‘,” Hailemariam said in an interview with Al Jazeera to be broadcast on Saturday.
The two countries remain at odds over the flashpoint town of Badme, awarded to Eritrea by a UN-backed boundary commission, but still controlled by Ethiopia.
“The most important thing for us is to fight poverty … to have regional integration. If we two do that, it will be much more productive,” Hailemariam added.
Eritrea won independence from Ethiopia in 1993 after a 30-year struggle, that is considered among the continent’s longest and most bitter.
Hailemariam, who took office after longtime ruler Meles Zenawi died in August, said that reaching out to Asmara was following the policy of his predecessor.
“My predecessor Meles Zenawi had asked for more than 50 times even to go to Asmara and negotiate with Mister Isaias Afwerki,” he said.
Ethiopia and Eritrea routinely accuse each other of backing armed groups to destabilise the other.
In March, Ethiopia attacked an Eritrean military base after the killing of five European tourists in blamed on Asmara.
If you are interested to listen the whole Interview of PM Hailemariam with Aljazeera, click HERE
Be the judge. This Prime Minister is simply parroting what the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi was telling us for the 50th time (…well that is according to PM Hailemariam though he showed us in the above interview only his five fingers – may be he meant to say five times). However, in his latest interview on VOA with Peter Heinlein (Click Here) he clearly stated that there will be no change in policy with regards to Eritrea even after the death of the former dictator Meles Zenawi. He said that Ethiopia offered the Eritrean government a five point plan so that he needs a round table ‘Dialogue’ on those plans in order to normalize the relation. If he only knows Eritrea has also a one and only one point plan and that is for Ethiopia to accept the International Ruling, vacate the area and allow demarcation of the border to normalize the relation. Period!
Oh! One more advise to PM HaileMariam: Please stop hiding behind Melesizm and stop mentionting his name everytime you’ve been asked about Eritrea. You are the Prime Minister, for God’s sake!