The US envoy Mike Hammer was in Ethiopia on Tuesday to seek a halt to renewed clashes between pro-government forces and Tigrayan rebels in the country's war-torn north, according to rebels in the Tigray region, a UN spokesman told AFP.
Getachew Reda, a spokesman for the Tigray rebel authorities, who have been in conflict with the federal government since November 2020, said late Monday on the official Tigrai TV, which is broadcast on the internet, that Tigrayan troops were resisting joint offensives by Ethiopian and Eritrean armies.
The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken had announced in recent days that Mr Hammer was coming to Ethiopia to "call for an immediate cessation of hostilities and the start of peace talks". However, since then, the American authorities in Washington as well as their embassy in Addis Ababa have remained silent on this trip.
The Ethiopian government did not immediately respond to AFP's requests for information on the visit of Mr Hammer or on the rebels' claims.
UN special envoy for the Horn of Africa Hanna Serwaa Tetteh “met (her counterpart) the US special envoy (Monday) in Addis," a UN spokesman in New York told AFP.
"No joint mission of the two special envoys is planned," the spokesman added.
After a five-month truce, fighting resumed on 24 August on the borders of Tigray between the Ethiopian federal government and the rebel authorities of this northernmost region of Ethiopia, which has been in conflict since November 2020, dashing hopes of talks since June.
The two sides, which accuse each other of having triggered these new hostilities, had repeated since June that they were willing to negotiate, without ceasing to oppose each other on the modalities of future discussions.
"There is very intense fighting" in several areas of Tigray and on the outskirts of the region, "our forces are holding out and not just blocking the enemy offensive, but in some cases (...) launching counter-offensives".
Journalists have no access to northern Ethiopia, making independent verification impossible, and telecommunications networks operate very randomly.