Blinken tells Ethiopia to strengthen peace on first post-Tigray war visit

© Tiksa Negeri, AP

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday urged Ethiopia to "deepen the peace" in its war-torn north, as he announced a $331-million aid package to the country during a visit aimed at repairing relations shaken by the two-year conflict.

The top US diplomat was paying his first visit to the longstanding ally since the end of the war in Tigray, which claimed 500,000 lives according to US estimates, and led Washington to sever trade preferences with Africa's second most populous nation.

As China and Russia increasingly seek influence in Ethiopia and around the continent, Blinken opened his visit by voicing hope for better relations as he sipped Ethiopia's celebrated coffee at the foreign ministry.

"It is a very important moment, a moment of hope, given the peace in the north that has taken hold," Blinken said.

"There is a lot to be done. Probably the most important thing is to deepen the peace that has taken hold in the north."

Blinken, who alleged crimes against humanity were committed during the war, said his goal was "strengthening the relationship" with Ethiopia, home of the African Union, as US President Joe Biden pushes for closer relations with African nations.

Blinken later met with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who wrote on Twitter that the two "agreed to strengthen the longstanding bilateral relations (between) our countries with a commitment to partnership" during talks that were closed to the press.

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