Ethiopia peace talks drag on as disarmament, aid discussed

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — The latest round of peace talks between the Ethiopian government and representatives of the country’s Tigray region have been extended as military commanders work out details for disarming Tigray forces after two years of conflict. .

An official familiar with the talks confirmed the extension until Thursday, speaking on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to speak publicly. The talks which started in Kenya on Monday were due to end on Wednesday.

The African Union-led talks follow the signing last week of a “permanent cessation of hostilities” in the conflict that is believed to have killed hundreds of thousands of people.

The agreement provides for the disarmament of Tigray forces in a few weeks, but there are concerns about when other fighters who are not part of the agreement will withdraw from Tigray. They include forces from Eritrea, which borders the region, and from the Amhara region of Ethiopia.

Other issues discussed in this round of talks include restoring basic services like internet, telecommunications and banking to the region of more than 5 million people, as well as resuming humanitarian aid deliveries.

The United Nations said on Wednesday that it and its partners were still waiting for access to an area where even some basic medical supplies have run out. World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, from Ethiopia, told reporters he expected aid to resume ‘immediately’ after the peace deal was signed .

Ethiopian government chief negotiator Redwan Hussein said that “perhaps by the end of this week or the middle of next week” humanitarian aid will be allowed in.

United Nations-backed investigators said Ethiopian forces had used “civilian starvation” as a weapon in the conflict marked by abuses on all sides.

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