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Ethiopia: Dr. Tedros Meets With UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon

Monday, April 29, 2013

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On his first day at the United Nations in New York, Dr. Tedros met with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

The discussions were focused on peace and security developments in Somalia and the future course of AMISOM. Also raised were issues related to Sudan, the chance for dialogue between Ethiopia and Eritrea and the upcoming London conference on Somalia.

The Secretary-General began by commending Ethiopia on the very important role it has been playing in the region, most notably in consolidating peace and security in neighbouring Somalia.

Regarding the Ethiopian National Defence Forces currently serving in Somalia, Ban Ki-moon said, he had taken note of Prime Minister Hailemariam's statement in parliament days earlier where he reiterated Ethiopia's commitment to the preservation of security in Somalia.

The Secretary-General said the UN had finalized the drafting of a new resolution for the establishment of a UN mission on Somalia (UNSOM), which he hoped would be adopted in the coming days. He also said that the UN will be represented at the London Conference by the Deputy Secretary-General, Jan Eliasson.

Dr. Tedros on his part expressed Ethiopia's happiness at the UN's decision to ramp up its involvement in Somalia through the UNSOM mission. He commended the decision while voicing his appreciation for the manner in which the mission is set to be organized.

On the withdrawal of Ethiopian troops, Dr. Tedros once again repeated that the withdrawals from Hudur were planned well in advance and that Ethiopian authorities had notified AMISOM well in advance of the action. Dr. Tedros regretted that AMISOM had not taken Ethiopia's decision seriously and were slow in assuming responsibility for the area's security following the withdrawal.

Dr. Tedros explained that as Ethiopia was the sole financier of its operations in Somalia, the costs of a longer mission there were unsustainable. However, he highlighted that that principal aim of the withdrawals were to make effective use of the forces on the ground in a manner that improved security in areas beyond urban centres. He said it was Ethiopia's belief that putting a potent force in one place would give Al-Shabaab ample opportunity to disperse and regroup.

He went on to reassure the Secretary-General that following a candid meeting with AMISOM, it had promised to send more troops to areas occupied by Ethiopian forces.

Dr. Tedros went on to underline that Ethiopia would be ready to help in any other way in future, based on further discussions with its partners on how best to engage in such matters.

On the Sudans, the Minister explained to the Secretary-General that there had been good progress between the two countries recently, especially following the AUHIP proposals regarding security and oil. He said Ethiopia was assisting the two Sudans in finding peaceful solutions to their disagreements and emphasized that Ethiopia would continue to pursue this endeavour. He additionally pointed to recent peace negotiations and the ceasefire agreement between Khartoum and the SPLM-N as an encouraging development. The Minister said that Ethiopia is calling for all the parties to continue this process.

Regarding the Secretary-General's question on the chance for dialogue with Eritrea, Dr. Tedros said Ethiopia had repeatedly made it clear that it would be ready to directly talk to Eritrea without preconditions; anytime, anywhere and at any level. However, the belligerent party, opposed to these talks has always been the Eritrean side. Dr. Tedros concluded by expressing solidarity with the people of Eritrea who have continuously been subjected to the suffering borne out of the regime's brutality and obstinacy to peace.

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