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Sudan unveils UAE initiative to end tensions with Ethiopia

Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed meets with Ethiopia's PM Abiy Ahmed in Addis Ababa in June 2018. (Photo Foreign Policy blogs)March 23, 2021 (KHARTOUM) - Sudan unveiled on Tuesday an Emirati initiative to end the border tensions with Ethiopia and to reach an agreement over Renaissance Dam. Also, the Ethiopian Prime Minister stated that his country does not want to go to war against Sudan.

Relations between Ethiopia and Sudan are strained due to the border dispute over the Fashaqa area. Ethiopian recently had claimed the border area and rejected the 1902 and 1972 agreements.

Meanwhile, Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt have failed to reach an agreement on the process of filling and operating the Grand Renaissance Ethiopian Dam (GERD) after 9 years of direct negotiations.

In a statement issued after its weekly meeting, the Council of Ministers announced that Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok briefed the council about a mediation initiative by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to resolve the dispute with Ethiopia over the border of the GERD alike.

He also said that he formed a special technical committee to study the proposal.

"The Council discussed the report of the technical committee including the relevant ministries to deal with the initiative of the United Arab Emirates to mediate between Sudan and Ethiopia in the border issue, and between Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia on the issue of the Renaissance Dam," reads the statement.

"The Council approved the proposals made by the technical committee and welcomed the initiative in principle within the framework of preserving the supreme national interests of the country," further stressed the statement.

In early January 2021, press reports spoke about discussions between Ethiopian officials and a UAE official of Palestinian origin who visited Addis Ababa seeking to propose a mediation to end the border standoff with Sudan.

According to the reports, Mohammed Dahlan a security adviser to Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed suggested negotiating a peaceful settlement ending the border tension with Sudan after the withdrawal of the Sudanese army and the deployment of international forces in the claimed area.

Sudan rejects any offer that leads to the revocation of the 1902 Agreement and the 1972 Complementary Agreement relating to border mapping between the two countries.

Sudan says that 10% of its territory is still under the control of the Ethiopian forces after the redeployment of troops on the border area.

Ethiopia recently massed troops inside the Sudanese international border while Sudan reinforced its forces and started the construction of permanent barracks supply lines.

On January 17, Hamdok welcomed a South Sudanese initiative to mediate the border dispute with Ethiopia, after a meeting in Khartoum with Deng Alor, a special envoy of President Salva Kiir Mayardit.

Ethiopia does not want war

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to the Ethiopian lawmakers on Tuesday that his government does not want war with Sudan over the fertile Al-Fasharga area.

"Ethiopia also has many problems, and we are not ready to go to battle. We don’t need war. It is better to settle it in a peaceful manner," said Abiy.

He added later that Ethiopia "did not want war" with the neighbouring "brotherly country" whose people loved Ethiopia.

Sudanese media accuses the Amhara ethnic group of being behind the current dispute saying that after backing Abiy in his war against the Tigray, they try to bring him to adopt their ambition in the Sudanese territory.

However, several observers dismissed claims that his policy towards Sudan was dictated by Demeke Mekonnen who is from the Amhara region and the current Deputy Prime Minister of Ethiopia and Minister of Foreign Affairs.

For his part, Dina Mufti Spokesperson of the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry reiterated on Tuesday his country’s readiness for talks with Sudan to end the border dispute after the withdrawal of the Sudanese forces from Al-Fashaga.

"We will negotiate with Sudan as long as it pulls back its troops out of Ethiopian territories it has occupied as of November 06, 2020," Mufti said.

"We urge the international community to continue to pressure Sudan to act respecting international law and according to the provisions of the 1972 Notes it has exchanged with Ethiopia," he added.