Nairobi – The Ethiopian government is “committed” to the AU-led peace process aimed at ending the near two-year conflict in the north, the foreign ministry said Wednesday.
It was the first official public comment by the government since the Tigrayan authorities said they were ready for a ceasefire and would accept a peace process led by the pan-African body.
“The Ethiopian government is committed to the AU-led peace process and expressed hope that the EU would support efforts to end the conflict peacefully,” the ministry quoted Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Demeke Mekonnen as saying at a meeting with a visiting EU envoy.
It said Demeke briefed Rita Laranjinha, Africa director at the European External Action Service, on “the current state of affairs in Ethiopia in relation to the northern conflict and the peace-building efforts that the Ethiopian government has undertaken thus far”.
The statement published on Facebook came after the Tigray regional authorities announced on Sunday they were willing to negotiate under the auspices of the AU, removing an obstacle to talks.
The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) had previously opposed the AU’s Horn of Africa envoy Olusegun Obasanjo acting as mediator, saying it wanted Kenya to broker any talks.
The international community has urged both sides to seize the moment to try to end a war that has killed untold numbers of civilians and triggered a major humanitarian crisis in northern Ethiopia.
Earlier Wednesday, 10 people were killed in a second day of air strikes on Mekele, the capital of the northern Tigray region, hospital officials said.