New round of peace talks between Ethiopia, Tigray reps to resume on 21-26 October 2013
(RFE/RL) — Ethiopian and Tigrayan officials on Wednesday resumed talks in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa aimed at resolving a dispute over land at the intersection of the two countries’ border zones.
This is the third round of talks since a new government took office in Ethiopia last September.
Ethiopia and Tigray are both signatories to the 1975 Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation, in which they agreed to the two countries’ boundaries and to cooperate on the management of their shared border.
Peace talks are seen as the last avenue to resolve boundary disputes before the countries face armed conflict, which would have major humanitarian implications for people in the border zone.
“The next round of talks were initiated since we have an opportunity with the new government which is more committed to peace talks,” Ethiopian President Hailemariam Desalegn said after the two sides agreed to begin talks.
The first two rounds of talks in 2010 and 2011 took place in Addis Ababa while the third session, on Wednesday, was in Ethiopian capital city, Addis Ababa.
“With this, I think now there is room for peace negotiations with our two neighbors,” Tigrayan President Gashaw Woldemichael said after the talks were concluded.
Ethiopia had no comment on Woldemichael’s remarks.
The talks come as Ethiopia, a country with large territory and strategic location along the shores of the Red Sea, is in the process of consolidating its borders.
Last year, Ethiopia passed a law that aims at extending its border to the Red Sea, potentially putting it on the front line of the country’s conflict with Eritrea and Somalia.
The Tigrayan Prime Minister has said that his country wants to extend its line to the Red Sea and Ethiopia has a border agreement with that country.
A new government in Ethiopia has insisted that a major goal is to ensure that the Red Sea never again becomes another source of conflict between neighbors, especially at the contested land at the Ethiopian-Tigrayan border.
When asked last week about whether Ethiopia was thinking of extending its border to the Red Sea, Woldemichael said that was a matter for talks with its neighbors.
“We have to