Monday, January 30, 2023

Sudan and Ethiopia hold border talks; disputed area near Tigray | Ethiopia News

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Two-day talks come a week after Ethiopian forces reportedly ambushed Sudanese troops, killing four people and injuring more than 20.

Sudan and Ethiopia have started talks in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, to demarcate their border, as Addis Ababa has said incidents in a disputed area put otherwise friendly relations between neighbors at risk.

The recent violence “did not resemble the cordial relationship that exists between our two countries,” Ethiopia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Demeke Mekonnen said on Tuesday.

“This endangers the agreements we have made to maintain the status quo,” he said, according to opening remarks released by the Ethiopian embassy in Khartoum.

The two-day talks in the capital came a week after Ethiopian forces reportedly ambushed Sudanese troops along the border, killing four and injuring more than 20.

Sudan has since deployed troops to the al-Fashaqa border region, the site of sporadic clashes.

The most contested region is an area of ​​250 square kilometers (100 square miles) where Ethiopian farmers cultivate fertile land in the territory claimed by Sudan.

The area borders Ethiopia’s troubled Tigray region, where fighting erupted early last month, causing tens of thousands of Ethiopians to flee and cross into Sudan.

But Demeke said that since last month Ethiopia has observed “organized attacks by Sudanese military forces using heavy machine guns” and armored convoys along the border.

He said the forces looted agricultural produce from Ethiopian farmers, vandalized their camps and hampered their harvest. “A number of civilians have been murdered and injured,” he said.

‘Amicable solution’

Demeke called for “reactivating existing mechanisms and finding an amicable solution” while warning of “unnecessary escalation”.

Addis Ababa had previously played down the ambush reported last week, saying it did not threaten relations between the two countries.

A spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry in Addis Ababa told AFP news agency that Ethiopian security forces “pushed back a group of low-ranking (Sudanese) officers and farmers who had encroached on Ethiopian territory ”.

Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and his Ethiopian counterpart Abiy Ahmed on Sunday accepted talks on the sidelines of a summit in Djibouti of the regional bloc of the Intergovernmental Authority for Development.

The Sudanese minister in charge of the cabinet, Omar Manis, led the Sudanese delegation on Tuesday.

Sudan and Ethiopia share a 1,600 km (nearly 1,000 mile) border, with border demarcation meetings held between 2002 and 2006.

In 1902, an agreement to establish the border was reached between Great Britain, the colonial power of Sudan at the time, and Ethiopia, but the agreement lacked clear dividing lines.

The last border talks between Sudan and Ethiopia were held in May in Addis Ababa, but another meeting scheduled for the following month was canceled.


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