Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed visits Port Sudan for peace talks

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PM Abiy stressed that the problems of nations should be resolved internally without external interference.

In a significant diplomatic move, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed visited Port Sudan on Tuesday, marking the first visit by a foreign head of government since the outbreak of war in Sudan.

He met with the head of the Sovereign Council and Sudanese army commander, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, to discuss the ongoing conflict and potential paths to peace.

Upon arrival, Ahmed was warmly received by General Abdel Fattah with a guard of honour.

According to a statement released by the Sovereign Council, Abdel Fattah briefed the visiting Prime Minister on the situation in Sudan, highlighting the “rebellion of the terrorist Rapid Support Forces (RSF) militia against the state and its institutions.”

The General accused the RSF of committing atrocities against Sudanese civilians, destroying state infrastructure, and targeting national institutions.

Abiy, who departed hours after his arrival, emphasised the importance of peace as the foundation for development. He stressed that the problems of nations should be resolved internally without external interference.

“True friends appear in times of hardship,” Abiy stated, expressing Ethiopia’s unwavering support for Sudan both governmentally and at the popular level. He voiced confidence that the war would end, strengthening the relationship between the two countries.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed with Sudanese army commander, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan in Port Sudan on July 9, 2024. (Photo: X/Abiy Ahmed)

The two leaders held a closed-door meeting to discuss the Sudanese crisis and ways to end the war. Multiple reports suggest that they also discussed the situation in eastern Sudan, including the possibility of an RSF attack on Gedaref and the potential for the conflict to spill over into Ethiopia.

Ethiopian analysts have warned that an alliance between Amhara Fano militias and the RSF could destabilise the region, given the undisciplined nature of both forces and their shared propensity for looting and attacks against civilians.

Sources who spoke to the Sudan Tribune indicate that Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s visit followed a phone call with the U.S. envoy to Sudan, who had also spoken with the Saudi Deputy Foreign Minister, a recent visitor to Sudan.

The Sudanese army has stated that it will not engage in talks with the RSF until they fulfil the terms of the May 11, 2023 agreement, which requires the withdrawal of RSF fighters from urban areas to designated cantonment sites outside of cities.

Ethiopia is a member of an IGAD regional mechanism seeking solutions to the conflict, which has killed an estimated 15,000-20,000 people and displaced over 10 million. However, Abdel Fattah has previously accused Ethiopia, along with Kenya, of backing the RSF by hosting and supporting its leadership.

The statements from Abiy’s and Abdel Fattah's offices did not address these accusations or mention specific plans regarding the conflict.

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