April 16, 2024

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Talks between Ethiopia & Somalia to diffuse tensions

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Talks were held between Ethiopia and Somalia recently to diffuse tensions, said a top minister yesterday. Tensions arose between the two countries earlier this year.

Mahamoud Ali Youssef, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Djibouti, yesterday disclosed that Djibouti was mediating between Ethiopia and Somalia. He said one round of talks had been held and preparation for the next round were in the making.

At the start of this year, Ethiopia signed a controversial MoU with Somaliland to gain access to sea through Somaliland in return for recognizing Somaliland as a country. The MoU was vehemently rejected by Somalia, calling a violation of Somalia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. Somaliland is a self declared country. But it is internationally recognized as part of Somalia.

Due to immense diplomatic pressure, Ethiopia and Somaliland could not make progress to turn the MoU into an agreement. Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed tried to contact Hassan Sheikh, Somalia’s President but the latter refused. Somalia rejected talks with Ethiopia until Ethiopia’s withdrawal from the MoU.

But the two sides met in Kenya last month reportedly. The meetings were not made public. It seems that after the Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed visited Kenya, delegations from Ethiopia and Somalia met in Kenya to sort out bilateral issues. Yesterday’s statement by Djibouti’s minister confirms first round of talks between Ethiopia and Somalia in Kenya.

The minister did not elaborate upon where and when the two countries intend to meet again. Djibouti, Kenya and US are reportedly mediating between Ethiopia and Somalia.

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