Ethiopian PM wants talks with Eritrea
“If you ask me, “Do you want to go to Asmara and sit down and negotiate with Isaias Afwerki [Afeworki]?” Then, I will say “yes”,” Hailemariam said in the interview with al-Jazeera to be broadcast on Saturday, according to excerpts provided by the Qatar-based television station.
The two countries remain at odds over the flashpoint town of Badme, awarded to Eritrea by a UN-backed boundary commission but still controlled by Addis Ababa.
“The most important thing for us is to fight poverty. The most important thing for us is to have regional integration. If we two do that, it will be much more productive,” Hailemariam added.
Eritrea won independence from Ethiopia in 1993 after a 30-year struggle, one of the continent’s longest and most bitter rebellions.
Hailemariam, who took office after longtime ruler Meles Zenawi died in August, said that reaching out to Asmara was following the policy of the late strongman.
“My predecessor Meles Zenawi had asked for more than 50 times even to go to Asmara and negotiate with Mister Isaias Afwerki,” he added.
Ethiopia and Eritrea routinely accuse each other of backing armed groups to destabilise the other, and in March, Ethiopian attacked an Eritrean military base after the killing of five European tourists in blamed on Asmara.