The United States Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke with AU High Representative for the Horn of Africa Olusegun Obasanjo on Wednesday to discuss the escalating crisis in Ethiopia.
The State Department said Blinken expressed “the strong support of the United States for President Obasanjo’s efforts to mediate among the parties to the ongoing conflict in Ethiopia.”
“The Secretary and President Obasanjo discussed the urgent need for a halt to all military operations, negotiations on a cessation of hostilities without preconditions, and unhindered humanitarian access,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement. “The Secretary expressed his concern that the bellicose rhetoric on all sides of the conflict risks fueling intercommunal violence. The Secretary offered his appreciation for President Obasanjo’s continued work to find a sustainable peace for all Ethiopians.”
Receiving Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba in Wasington, Blinken was also asked to explain why the United States agrees with Obasanjo that there is a window of opportunity to ending the Ethiopian crisis.
“Secretary Blinken, I’d like to start with Ethiopia and then turn to Russia and Ukraine. Why does the United States believe that there is a window of opportunity right now to end the hostilities and atrocities in Ethiopia? Can you explain why there’s any optimism there? And what will the United States do if the diplomatic efforts fail?” asked Kylie Atwood of CNN.
“First, Ethiopia – we’re in very close contact with former Nigerian President Obasanjo, who is leading the effort on behalf of the African Union, to mediate the crisis in Ethiopia.,” Blinken said. “And so hearing from him, as well as the engagement of our own Special Envoy Jeff Feltman, I believe that all sides see the dangers of perpetuating the conflict. And there is an opportunity, I hope, for everyone to pull back, to sit down, to get a halt to what’s happening on the ground, and ultimately to produce a ceasefire, to have access for humanitarian assistance, and over time to negotiate a more durable political resolution.”
He added, “And I do think there’s an opportunity born of necessity, because the alternative of conflict that overtakes Ethiopia, spills out of the country into the region, should be sobering to everyone and to all concerned. And there is here, as in so many other places, no military resolution to the differences that exist among the different parties. And so we are hopeful that, given the important work that President Obasanjo is engaged in, the efforts that we’re making and others who are engaged, that there is still a window to pull back and to move this to a better place.”