Blinken arrives in Ethiopia as part of bid to boost US engagement in Africa

© Tiksa Negeri, Reuters

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived late Tuesday in Ethiopia on a bid to support the peace process after a brutal two-year civil war, and renew ties with a longtime ally.

Blinken's trip to Africa's second most populous nation comes as part of a push by President Joe Biden's administration to step up engagement with Africa, where China and Russia have been stepping up influence.

It is the highest-ranking US visit to the country since war broke out in late 2020 between Ethiopia's government and Tigrayan rebels, fraying the US relationship with Addis Ababa as Washington alleged crimes against humanity.

Blinken is expected to meet Wednesday in Addis Ababa with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed -- a Nobel Peace Prize winner once seen as at the vanguard of a new generation of forward-looking African leaders, but who quickly turned into a near pariah for Washington over the war.

The violence broke out when the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), which once dominated Ethiopian politics, attacked military installations, setting off a major offensive by Abiy's government with backing from the country's erstwhile adversary Eritrea.

The TPLF briefly came close to marching on the capital but, beaten back by pro-Abiy forces, agreed to disarm under a November 2 accord negotiated in South Africa's capital Pretoria by the African Union with US participation.

"The conflict that Ethiopia just endured was earth-shattering," she told reporters before departure.


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