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Blinken urges Eritrea pullout year after Tigray peace deal

A year after a peace deal halted the bloody Tigray war, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called Thursday for Eritrean troops to pull out and for diplomacy to resolve conflicts elsewhere in Ethiopia. Blinken praised the “significant progress” since the Ethiopian government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) reached the deal on November 2, 2022 in Pretoria but acknowledged “challenges that remain.” “More actions are needed to bring lasting peace and stability to Tigray,” Blinken said in a statement. “Eritrean forces must fully withdraw. Both Ethiopia and Eritrea must refrain from provocation and respect the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries in the region,” he said. He noted the “continued human rights abuses” and voiced alarm that bloodshed in Amhara, Oromia and other parts of Africa’s second most populous nation “threaten Ethiopia’s fragile peace.” “We also urgently call for dialogue to address the conflicts in Amhara and Oromia,” Blinken said. The two-year conflict badly degraded Washington’s once close relationship with Ethiopia, with Blinken saying that Ethiopian troops as well as Eritrean and Tigrayan forces committed war crimes. The United States estimates that half a million people died, a far higher death toll than the ongoing wars in Ukraine and between Israel and Hamas. Blinken visited Ethiopia in March, but President Joe Biden’s administration has kept in place one key countermeasure that has angered Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government — the country’s removal from a major US trade pact. The Tigray conflict pitted Ethiopia’s government forces — backed by Eritrea’s army and forces from the neighboring region of Amhara — against the TPLF.

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