Ethiopia has issued a statement saying that it believes the border dispute with Sudan can be solved through “dialogue”, two days after Khartoum took most of the land that it accused Ethiopian forces of attacking.
In a press briefing on Tuesday, the spokesperson for Ethiopia’s Ministry of Foreign affairs, Dina Mufti, said that “some parties seek to create tensions” between the two states, stressing that their “historical relations” are “too deep to be shaken by the desire of conspirators.”
“Ethiopia has always been keen on the stability of its neighbourhoods to the same extent that it is keen on the stability and security of its people,” Mufti said, as quoted by the ministry’s official Facebook page. “When the revolution erupted in Sudan to achieve the demand of the people for freedom and justice, the government and people of Ethiopia stood by its brothers in Sudan.”
Mufti, despite accusing Sudan of using force since 9 November, pointed out that both sides had positively concluded a two-day meeting of the High-Level Political Committee that took place last week between top-level officials from both sides.
The meeting was attended by Ethiopia’s deputy prime minister and top diplomat Demeke Mekonnen, while Sudan’s cabinet affairs minister Omar Munis led his country’s delegation.
During the meeting, Mufti explained, the Ethiopians thanked the Sudanese side for the “unwavering support and understanding for our law-and-order enforcement operation in the Tigray Region,” and for “letting our citizens cross their boarder and cordially hosting them.”
The Ethiopian delegation vowed “to translate the strong bilateral relations into more strategic cooperation,” including in areas of railway development and port utilisation, Mufti said.
Mufti also revealed that Sudan insists on determining a date for the start of the border demarcation process. “They said when the borders are demarcated, we can discuss anything, including the issue of Ethiopian farmers on Sudanese territory.”
The two delegations said they would report to their heads of state after the meetings.
Emphasising that Sudan also supports “dialogue,” Sudan’s information minister Faisal Saleh told Reuters that “our army will do its duty to take back all our land. Currently our army has taken back between 60 and 70 percent of Sudanese land.”
Salih explained that Sudanese forces had clashed and acted defensively for two days against Ethiopian “regular forces”, not militias.
“Sudanese intelligence reports confirmed that the organisation, training and arming of the forces that attacked were not militias but regular forces,” he said.
For years, Sudan has complained about attacks by Ethiopian farmers against its territories, counting on the support of armed, Ethiopian militias to expel Sudanese citizens from their homes and take their possessions.
Media reports suggest that the conflict has taken place in agricultural land in Al-Fashqa, an eastern border region in which Sudan has recently deployed troops. Al-Fashqa is part of Sudan’s national boundaries.