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Tigray: US envoy, Ethiopia's deputy PM meet

After a five-month truce that raised hopes for peace talks, fighting resumed on 24 August in northern Ethiopia   -  
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Ethiopia

The US envoy for the Horn of Africa, Mike Hammer, met with Ethiopia's Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen in Addis Ababa on Friday, the official Ethiopian news agency ENA said, as part of efforts to end the conflict in the north.

No details on the duration and programme of his stay in Ethiopia were disclosed.

After a five-month truce that raised hopes for peace talks, fighting resumed on 24 August in northern Ethiopia between the Ethiopian federal army - backed by forces from the Tigray border regions and the Eritrean army - and rebels from the breakaway Tigray region.

After a previous visit in September, Mr Hammer returned to the region on 3 October for 15 days to "achieve an immediate cessation of hostilities in northern Ethiopia and support the launch of peace talks under the auspices of the African Union", according to the State Department.

The federal government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the rebel authorities in Tigray said in early October that they were ready to go to talks in South Africa convened by the AU.

But these talks could not take place, mainly because of organisational and logistical problems, according to diplomats, and the fighting continues.

On Friday, during the discussion with Mr Hammer, Mr Demeke, who is also foreign minister, "reaffirmed the government's commitment to a peaceful resolution of the conflict in the north of the country," according to a tweet from the foreign ministry.

On Wednesday, the United States, along with other Western countries, urged the Ethiopian government and Tigrayan rebels to start AU-led peace talks and called on Eritrea to withdraw its troops from northern Ethiopia.

Fighting started in November of 2020 after forces loyal to the TPLF attacked a federal army base, killing troops and looting weapons. Human rights groups have accused the warring sides of committing atrocities.

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