Top US diplomat heads to Addis Ababa as Somalia wrangles with Ethiopia over controversial deal


ADDIS ABABA - A top US diplomat will visit Ethiopia next week amid simmering tensions in the Horn of Africa, following a controversial deal between Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Somaliland leader Muse Bihi Abdi.

Dr. Ahmed and Abdi signed an agreement that if implemented implemented, will see Ethiopia getting 20 kilometers of Red Sea in exchange for recognition of Somaliland as a sovereign state, a move which has angered Somalia.

But in the middle of this, US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Molly Phee will travel to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia February 12-17, 2024. The visit comes just days after she released a statement defending Somalia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Assistant Secretary Phee will be joined by Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Ambassador Mike Hammer, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, and Senior Bureau Official for the Bureau of Global Health Security and Diplomacy Dr. John Nkengasong, U.S. Agency for International Development’s Assistant Administrator for the Bureau for Africa Monde Muyangwa, and other senior U.S. Government officials.

"Their travel will focus on the African Union (AU) Summit, where they will meet with AU officials and heads of state and ministers attending the summit. While in Addis Ababa, Assistant Secretary Phee will also meet Government of Ethiopia officials to discuss bilateral and regional issues," a statement from the State Department read.

"The United States reaffirms the value of a strong African Union and welcomes the AU’s leadership on the global stage. We are proud of our strong partnership with the AU, its member states, and the peoples of Africa," added the statement.

"We are dedicated to working together to advance our shared global priorities to foster openness and open societies, deliver democratic and security dividends, promote economic opportunity and pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response, and support conservation, climate adaptation, and a just energy transition."

Ethiopia is undergoing internal instability following inter-community ethnic wrangles which have threatened to disintegrate the country. In addition, the conflict with Somalia threatens instability, with the Horn of Africa nation ruling out negotiations with Addis Ababa over the Red Sea.

Abiy Ahmed, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, said he has no intentions to grab land in Somalia, adding that his actions are set to liberate the region economically. Ethiopia plans to build a military base and port along the Red Sea.


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