U.S. insists Ethiopian government and Tigray People’s Liberation Front “need to begin ceasefire negotiations immediately and without preconditions”

The United States has insisted that the Ethiopian government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front “need to begin ceasefire negotiations immediately and without preconditions.”

“This should lead to a broader dialogue to find a durable political solution to this conflict,” Ned Price, State Department spokesperson, told reporters at a briefing on Thursday.

Asked by an Ethiopian journalist what the Biden administration’s position is on the alleged “TPLF’s refusal to accept the ceasefire and the use of children as soldiers,” Price said the administration condemns such allegations.

“One, I want to be very clear on these allegations that the TPLF is recruiting child soldiers. We are very much concerned by these reports. We take these allegations very seriously. We reiterate our call for all parties to adhere strictly to international humanitarian law and for those responsible for violations of international humanitarian law and human rights abuses to be held accountable,” Price said. “When it comes to the broader conflict, we have made this point before, but, again, it bears repeating. We call on the TPLF, we call on the Amhara regional forces, we call on the Eritrean Defence Forces, on the Ethiopian National Defense Forces, and associated regional militias to end this crisis and to move towards a negotiated ceasefire. In our mind, this is what is most important: ending the conflict, moving toward that negotiated ceasefire, and providing the level of humanitarian access that the people in Tigray need, of which they are in dire need.”

Price added the United States also condemns attacks on civilians in the Tigray region “regardless of the actor.”

He said, “We strongly condemn any attacks that have been or may be directed against civilians in the Tigray region regardless of the actor, whether it’s organized by military or security forces or rogue elements operating there. Those who commit such acts, as I said before, must be held accountable, and we call on all parties to condemn such acts and do everything in their power to stop them.

“We’re particularly concerned by credible reports that armed forces affiliated with the TPLF and the Tigrayan militias have engaged in attacks against Eritrean refugees in the region. Such conduct is reprehensible. It must cease. It must come to an immediate halt. Those responsible, again, should be held responsible and accountable for their actions.

“We’re equally concerned by reports of Ethiopian Security Force harassment and arbitrary detention of ethnic Tigrayans in regions of Ethiopia beyond Tigray, and security force harassment and detention on the basis of ethnicity is unacceptable. We call on all parties to cease such activities and to respect human rights and the rule of law.

“We further call on all armed actors to comply with international humanitarian law, including the obligations regarding the protection of civilians. As we have consistently stated, any effort to change Ethiopia’s internal boundaries by force is unacceptable. Any issue of national importance is an issue for the Ethiopian people to decide through consensual dialogue and democratic processes, not through violence. And that is why we have put such a priority on this negotiated ceasefire. This is what we have continued to urge, urging the parties to come together immediately without preconditions just as we push for increased humanitarian access so that the long-suffering people of Tigray can be in receipt of that relief.”

Price added that the expansion of the fighting in Tigray remains concerning.

“The reports of the expansion of the fighting in Tigray are concerning. And it’s concerning because it will only lead to more suffering and to more death,” he said. “That is why we continue to say that all parties to the conflict should immediately agree to an end to the violence and to begin in earnest negotiations and political dialogue. Armed actors in Tigray and Amhara, those and the Government of Ethiopia need to reach an agreement that allows the ceasefire to include all parties and facilitate, as I said before, delivery of humanitarian access. The Government of Eritrea, for its part, must withdraw its forces consistent with commitments by both Ethiopia and Eritrea.”

Chief White House Correspondent for

Simon Ateba is Chief White House Correspondent for Today News Africa. Simon covers President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, the U.S. government, the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions in Washington D.C. and New York City.

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