The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has urged Ethiopia to address what he described as an impending humanitarian disaster in the northern region of Tigray.
In a phone call with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, he said troops from neighbouring Eritrea should be withdrawn immediately, in full and in a verifiable manner.
He expressed concerns about ethnic tensions elsewhere in the country.
The Ethiopian government hasn’t said anything about the call yet.
The State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said that during the conversation with Mr Abiy, the secretary of state had stressed his support for Ethiopia, but also expressed concerns about human rights abuses in Tigray.
He said although the Eritrean government had said that it would withdraw its troops it hadn’t actually done so.
“We have heard the Eritrean government’s public statement that it will withdraw its forces from Tigray but that must still be implemented in practice.
There is no evidence that such a withdrawal is underway and any such withdrawal must be immediate and verifiable,” he said.
Mr Blinken’s comments may dampen the mood inside the Ethiopian government as they happened on the same day that the government announced with great fanfare the interest of international telecom giants to enter Africa’s biggest untapped market.
The secretary’s comments also serve as a reminder that the conflict in Tigray began almost six months ago and that there still isn’t an end in sight.