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US envoy concerned about military developments in Ethiopia could overtake diplomacy

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A senior US diplomat said on Tuesday he feared military developments in Ethiopia would overtake efforts to stop the escalation of the bloody, year-long conflict in the country.

Speaking to reporters after returning from a trip to Ethiopia, US special envoy to the Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman said he and other diplomats were trying to de-escalate and to a ceasefire between the Ethiopian federal government and the forces led by the Tigrayan people. Liberation Front. The TPLF says these forces are the Tigray Defense Forces (TDF). The federal government claims the TPLF is a designated terrorist group.

Feltman said talks have progressed, but acknowledged the two sides remain open for further clashes.

FILE: Jeffrey Feltman, U.S. special envoy to the Horn of Africa in Khartoum, Sudan, May 7, 2021.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced on social media Monday that he would be heading to the front lines to lead his forces in person, and he called on citizens to join him.

Meanwhile, TPLF-led forces, which pushed south towards the capital, Addis Ababa, reportedly occupied a town about 220 kilometers from the city on Monday.

On Tuesday, Feltman urged both sides to pull back from the brink of intensified war.

“After more than a year of fighting and hundreds of thousands of victims and people displaced by the fighting, it should be clear that there is no military solution,” he said.

Feltman said the Tigrayan leaders told him their top priority was to break “the de facto humanitarian siege that the Ethiopian government has imposed on Tigray since July”.

He said Abiy wanted rebel forces to withdraw to Tigray and leave the lands they occupied in Amhara and Afar regions.

“The fundamental point is that these two goals are not mutually exclusive. With political will, both can be achieved,” he said. “Unfortunately, each side is trying to achieve its goal through military force, and each side seems to believe it is on the verge of winning.”

Feltman said the United States was not taking sides in the conflict, but added that the United States was against a military advance by Tigrayan forces on the capital.

“I want to make it clear that we are absolutely opposed to the TDF threatening Addis by cutting off the road to Djibouti or threatening Addis by entering it,” he said.

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