African leader assures there’ll be no war with neighbor over port dealEthiopia’s Prime Minister says he will not go to war with Somalia over a Red Sea access deal dispute Read Full Article at RT.com

Ethiopia is only interested in peace with Somalia, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said, addressing fears about a fight over the agreement

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has dismissed widespread concerns about a potential war with neighboring Somalia, which arose following his country’s disputed sea-access agreement with breakaway Somaliland last month.

Abiy told Ethiopian lawmakers on Tuesday that he has no intention of going to war with Somalia, adding that his only interest is in maintaining peace with neighbors.

“The people of Ethiopia and Somalia are bound by blood. Many Ethiopians have died for the peace of Somalia. There is no country that has paid as much as Ethiopia for the peace of Somalia,” he said, according to Addis Standard, a news agency. Abiy was referring to Ethiopia’s troop contributions to an AU peacekeeping mission fighting the extremist group al-Shabab in Somalia.

“The development of Somalia is the development of our country. We don’t want to fight. We want to see a strong and prosperous Somalia that is a market for Ethiopian goods,” he stressed.

The two East African countries have been at odds over the January 1 pact that involves Somaliland leasing coastland around the port of Berbera on the Gulf of Aden to Addis Ababa for 50 years. This will grant the landlocked nation access to the Red Sea for commercial purposes and also allow for the construction of a marine force base.

The move has angered Somalia, which regards Somaliland as its territory despite the breakaway region declaring independence in 1991. While Addis Ababa considers the maritime deal critical to its economic needs, Mogadishu has denounced it as a land grab, an act of aggression, and a breach of its territorial integrity.

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Egypt rejects Ethiopia-Somaliland port deal

Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mahmoud has warned his Ethiopian counterpart Abiy against implementing the agreement, saying he is prepared to go to war to prevent it. He had previously signed a law claiming to nullify the deal, with his government rejecting an African Union proposal for dialogue with Ethiopia and insisting that canceling the “illegal” pact is the only way to resolve tensions. Egypt, which has been locked in a years-long dispute with Ethiopia over the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance dam on the Blue Nile, has vowed to defend Mogadishu against any threats to its sovereignty.

Ethiopia, which joined the BRICS+ group the same day it signed the sea-access deal with Somaliland, has relied mainly on the port of neighboring Djibouti for the majority of its maritime trade since it became landlocked following Eritrea’s secession in 1993.

Last year, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed had to address similar fears that Ethiopia would pursue its “strong” desire to gain access to the Red Sea through war. The Nobel Peace Prize winner assured that, while direct access to the sea is a necessity rather than a luxury for Africa’s second-most populous nation, his government will not invade any country.

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