Cairo: The Sudanese Prime Minister has met his Ethiopian counterpart, as his forces continue their advances to reclaim territories controlled by Ethiopian militias along the two countries’ shared border.
Abdalla Hamdok’s office said the meeting with Abiy Ahmed took place in the Horn of Africa nation of Djibouti, on the sidelines of a summit of a regional bloc on Sunday (Monday AEDT). His office said Sudanese and Ethiopian officials would convene on Tuesday in Sudan’s capital for border talks. It did not give further details.
The two leaders’ meeting came just days after a cross-border attack by Ethiopian forces and militias that killed at least four Sudanese troops and wounded a dozen others in the Abu Tyour area in eastern Sudan’s al-Qadarif province.
Sudan’s state-run news agency reported at the weekend that the military had deployed “large reinforcements” into al-Qadarif province to reclaim territories controlled by Ethiopian farmers and militias in Sudan’s al-Fashqa border area. The troops would stop at the border line according to the 1902 deals between Sudan and Ethiopia, SUNA reported.
Tuesday’s cross-border attack in Abu Tyour came amid weeks-long fighting in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region that has pitted the federal government against regional authorities. The Tigray fighting has sent more than 52,000 Ethiopian refugees into Sudan, mostly into al-Qadarif province.
At the start of the clashes in Tigray, Sudan deployed more than 6000 troops to its border with Ethiopia.
The attack in al-Qadarif was the latest by Ethiopian forces and militias on Sudanese troops and people over the past several months, and has strained ties between the two neighbours. The sides have held talks in recent months to encourage Ethiopian farmers to withdraw from Sudan’s al-Fashqa border area, which they have cultivated for years.
Following the attack, the head of Sudan’s ruling sovereign council, General Abdel-Fattah Burhan, travelled to al-Qadarif and spent three days there overseeing the deployment of heavily armed troops to the border area, according to a senior military official. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to brief the media.
Ethiopia’s Prime Minister last week downplayed the attack, saying that “such incidents will not break the bond” between the two countries.
“We always use dialogue to resolve issues. Those fanning discord clearly do not understand the strength of our historical ties,” Ahmed tweeted.
Ahmed and Hamdok met at a summit of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, known as IGAD, where the Tigray fighting would likely top the agenda. Hamdok is the current head of IGAD.
The meeting took place as three people died after an abandoned bomb exploded in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, the state Ethiopia News Agency reported.
The incident happened in the Lideta area near the centre of the capital, and the explosion killed three homeless people and injured five others.
There was no indication it was linked to the dispute between Abiy’s forces and those of the Tigray regional government in the north of the country.
“An investigation regarding the explosion is now going on and the public will be informed once the investigation is completed,” the agency reported.
The United Nations last week approved a package of $US35.6 million ($47 million) to support civilians affected by the fighting that began on November 4, with thousands of people displaced and an unknown number dead or injured.
At the weekend, the European Union pledged an additional €23.7 million ($38 million) in aid to deal with the fallout in the Tigray.
“Tigray is on the edge of a humanitarian catastrophe which risks destabilising the whole neighbourhood,” the EU said in a statement.