Abiy Ahmed in Washington to attend US-Africa Leaders Summit

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Nearly 50 African leaders, including Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, are attending the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit that begins Tuesday in Washington.

The three-day summit that begins Tuesday is meant to advance shared priorities through conversations focused on numerous global crises and challenges, including climate change, good governance, food insecurity, world health, and violent extremism, US officials said. 

Prime Minister Abiy, a one-time US ally was accused by the Biden administration of backing widespread abuses in the Tigray conflict, which has subsided with a breakthrough November 2 agreement signed in South Africa.

Abiy received an invitation even though President Joe Biden late last year announced he was cutting out Ethiopia from a U.S. trade program, known as the African Growth and Opportunity Act, over the country’s failure to end a war in the Tigray region. A peace deal was signed on November 3, 2022, which was praised by U.S. officials as a diplomatic achievement. Under its terms, Tigray and the federal government are to cease hostilities permanently, Tigray will disarm, and the federal government will take back control of Tigray infrastructure and allow humanitarian aid to access the region.

On Saturday, a local newspaper reported that the US urged the Ethiopian government to permit international human rights experts’ access to the country as a precondition before reinstating Ethiopia’s benefit under AGOA. The English Reporter quoted Tracey Jacobson (Amb.), Chargé d’affaires of the US Embassy in Addis Ababa, as saying that allowing international human rights experts into conflict-affected areas of northern Ethiopia is a necessary step the government must take to regain AGOA eligibility.

The State Department said it excluded countries that have been suspended from the African Union because of coups — Mali, Sudan, Guinea, and Burkina Faso — and those that don’t have diplomatic relations with the U.S. or are not recognized by it, such as Eritrea and Somaliland.

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