Blinken presses Ethiopia's Abiy on withdrawal of Eritreans from Tigray - Metro US

Blinken presses Ethiopia’s Abiy on withdrawal of Eritreans from Tigray

FILE PHOTO: Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali delivers his speach during the awarding ceremony in Oslo City Hall

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday pressed Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed for troops from Eritrea involved in the Tigray conflict to be withdrawn “immediately, in full, and in a verifiable manner,” according to a statement.

Blinken said Eritrean forces and Amhara regional forces in the Tigray region are contributing to the growing humanitarian disaster and committing human rights abuses, according to a statement by U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price describing a phone call with Abiy.

“The Secretary also stressed the need for all parties to the conflict to end hostilities immediately,” Price said.

Washington said last week that it had seen no evidence of a troop withdrawal promised by both Ethiopia and Eritrea.

Blinken also expressed concern in the call about the humanitarian and human rights crisis in Ethiopia, including the growing risk of famine in the Tigray region, Price said.

The Eritrean information minister, Abiy’s spokeswoman and the head of a government taskforce on Tigray did not return messages seeking comment.

Ethiopia says it is committed to investigating human rights violations and that it is providing humanitarian aid in Tigray.

Fighting erupted in Tigray in November after the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) attacked army bases across the region.

The attacks initially overwhelmed the federal military, which later mounted a counter-offensive alongside Eritrean soldiers and forces from the neighboring region of Amhara.

The TPLF, which dominated Ethiopia’s government for nearly three decades until Abiy came to power in 2018, has long been an archenemy of Eritrea.

(Reporting by Simon Lewis and Daphne Psaledakis; Additional reporting by Katharine Houreld in NairobiEditing by Marguerita Choy and Grant McCool)

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