BY BIRHANU FIKADU | THE REPORTER
While briefing journalists about the “African Union High Level Dialogue and Ministerial,” a meeting the United States facilitated since 2000 to learn the concerns and needs of African leaders, Ambassador Donald Yamamoto, acting Assistant Secretary for African affairs, said early this week that the U.S. is working to resolve the tense border dispute between Ethiopia and Eritrea and the resulting 18-year standoff between the two countries.
In his telephonic briefing from Washington D.C., Ambassador Yamamoto said that in addition to working to resolve the longstanding border war and dispute between the two neighboring countries, his administration values the commitment of the two countries to resolving the standoff. However, Yamamoto did not mention any specifics regarding mediation process and timetable.
“How do you bring peace and security and support between Ethiopia and Eritrea? You’ve had a long border war and dispute, which is very tense, and we’re looking at trying to resolve that. And that’s something the United States is committed to because Ethiopia and Eritrea are also committed to finding a way forward, and so we’re going to look at the solution”, Yamamoto said.
Adding to what the ambassador earlier told reporters, Amanda Jacobsen, spokesperson for the Bureau of African Affairs told The Reporter via email that “as stated by Ambassador Yamamoto, the United States continues to engage with both Ethiopia and Eritrea to foster peaceful relations between the two countries, while noting that this process needs to be led by the two countries themselves. The United States has consistently urged both Ethiopia and Eritrea to cooperate in promoting stability and sustainable peace in the region”.
Yet, it is unclear in what terms the U.S. is engaging the two sides and how both governments are trying to resolve the situation.
The 1998 to 2000 border war between Ethiopia and Eritrea resulted in an estimated deaths toll of some 80,000. The 2000 peace accord inked in Algiers though culminated the war recurrent disputes and standoffs remain commonplace along the disputed border.
In addition to speaking about the Ethio- Eritrean matters, Ambassador Yamamoto also talked about continental economic, political and social challenges in which the U.S. is collaborating with African heads of states.
Hence, secretary of state Rex Tillerson invited 37 African foreign ministers for the high level dialogue and ministerial held in the US this week. The high level meeting is the biggest in size that the new administration has convened with regard to Africa since President Donald Trump assumed power last year.
In addition to politics and governance, the ministers also discussed trade and investment where the likes of Power Africa, Trade Africa and the AGOA act were said to be playing active role in facilitating economic opportunities in the continent.
Despite all the hype, the US made it clear that these initiatives, which were initiated during President Barack Obama’s administration, will remain unaltered.