March 18, 2021 (KHARTOUM) – U.S. President Joe Biden Thursday dispatched Senator Christopher Coons to Addis Ababa to discuss the humanitarian situation in the Tigray Region and the border standoff with Sudan.
Coons who is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Subcommittee on African Affairs will meet in Addis Ababa with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, according to a statement by National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan on Thursday.
“Senator Coons will convey President Biden’s grave concerns about the humanitarian crisis and human rights abuses in the Tigray region and the risk of broader instability in the Horn of Africa,” reads the statement.
The special envoy will also meet with the African Union officials to discuss the situation in the region.
By sending Coons to Addis Ababa President Biden intends to show his concern about the situation in Ethiopia after alarming reports about the humanitarian crisis in the northern region and claims of grave human rights violations.
On 3 March, U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken spoke with the Ethiopian prime minister about the violence in Tigray pointing to a “growing number of credible reports of atrocities and human rights violations and abuses”.
Citing a senior White House official, The Foreign Policy Magazine reported on Thursday that Coons would also press Abiy Ahmed on “resolving an ongoing border dispute between Sudan and Ethiopia”.
Western diplomats warned against the risk of war between the two countries which are massing troops on the border area.
The Ethiopian government wants talks on border demarcation. For its part, Sudan rejects the Ethiopian claims saying the border has been demarcated since 1902 and reconfirmed in 1972.
Addis Ababa further says before holding talks Sudanese army must withdraw its troops from the claimed Al-Fashagah area. In return, Khartoum says no negotiations before the recognition of the border area as Sudanese land by the government of Abiy Ahmed.
Obasanjo calls for African solution
Olusegun Obasanjo the former President of Nigeria on Thursday met with the Sudanese Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok and the Head of the Sovereign Council, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan to discuss the border dispute between Sudan and Ethiopia.
In a statement issued after his meeting with Hamdok, the cabinet office said that Obasanjo affirmed Africa’s keenness to resolve the differences between Sudan and Ethiopia
“Africa will not stand idly by regarding the differences between the two countries,” he said according to the statement.
It is not clear if he has been mandated by the African Union. The former president was accompanied by a delegation of the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, a Geneva-based group for mediation and conflict resolution.