Peace talks to end Ethiopia’s devastating Tigray conflict have begun in South Africa.
It is described as one of the highest-level effort yet to end two years of fighting that has killed perhaps hundreds of thousands of people.
The spokesman for South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, Vincent Magwenya, said the African Union-led talks that started Tuesday are expected to continue until Sunday. Delegations from the Ethiopian government and Tigray authorities arrived in South Africa this week. There was no immediate comment from either side.
“Such talks are in line with South Africa’s foreign policy objectives of a secure and conflict-free continent,” Magwenya said.
Former Nigerian president and AU envoy Olusegun Obasanjo, former South African deputy president Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and former Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta are facilitating the talks with the encouragement of the United States, whose special envoy Mike Hammer picked up the Tigray delegation in a U.S. military aircraft on Sunday.
The peace talks led by Ethiopia’s national security adviser Redwan Hussein and by Tigray forces spokesman Getachew Reda and Gen. Tsadkan Gebretensae started after Ethiopian and allied forces from Eritrea took over some urban areas in Tigray in the past few days.
Those include the towns of Axum, Adwa and now Adigrat, according to a humanitarian source who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly.