Addis Ababa, 15 March 2023 (TDI): The United States (US) Secretary of the State, Antony Blinken arrived in Ethiopia on Tuesday, seeking to support the peace process and strengthen bilateral relations with the African Nation.

It is the highest-ranking visit by a US official to Ethiopia since the outbreak of conflict between the government and Tigrayan rebels in 2020.

Secretary Blinken began his trip to Ethiopia to discuss the implementation of the cessation of hostilities agreement to advance peace and promote transitional justice in northern Ethiopia.

During the 2-day visit, Secretary Antony Blinken will meet with Ethiopian Foreign Minister Demeke Mekonnen, who stressed that Ethiopia and the US “have longstanding relations and it is time to revitalize them and move forward.”

Secretary Blinken also added, “There is a lot to be done. Probably the most important thing is to deepen the peace that has taken hold in the north.”

After meeting with Foreign Minister Demeke Mekonnen, Antony Blinken will meet with Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed and leaders of the Tigrayan forces.

Since the outbreak of conflict in Ethiopia, Washington imposed a wide range of restrictions on economic and security assistance to Ethiopia.

It had also cut access to the African Growth and Opportunity Act, a duty-free trade programme that has been a boon for the US textile sector.

Meeting with Secretary Blinken, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is likely to bring the matter for discussion. In addition, Ethiopia is also looking to restructure its debt and secure a loan from the International Monetary Fund.

After completing the visit to Ethiopia, Secretary Blinken will visit Niger on the 16th of March. Where Secretary Blinken will meet President Mohamed Bazoum and Foreign Minister Hassoumi Massaoudou in Niamey.

He will discuss ways to advance the US-Niger partnership on diplomacy, democracy, development, and defense.

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Furthermore, Secretary Blinken will also engage youths from Niger’s conflict zones, who have completed the Disarmament, Demobilization, Reintegration, and Reconciliation (DDRR) program, to learn about their contributions to peace in Niger.