Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Deslegn Willing to Talk to Eritrea (Video Interview with Al Jazeera in English, and CCTV Interview)

Dec 06, 2012

In an exclusive interview, Hailemariam Desalegn tells Al Jazeera he is ready to speak to President Issaias Afeworki.

Hailemariam Desalegn, Ethiopia’s prime minister, has said that he is willing to hold talks with neighbouring Eritrea, with whom Addis Ababa fought a border war that ended in 2000.

If Desalgen follows through with Wednesday’s statement, it will be the first time a leader in Addis Ababa has held talks with Issaias Afeworki, the Eritrean president, since the end of the conflict which left at least 70,000 people dead.

Talk to Al Jazeera – Can Ethiopia and Eritrea finally find peace?

After decades of hostility between the two countries, Hailemariam Desalegn, Ethiopia’s new prime minister, explains why he would be willing to talk to the Eritrean president. He also discusses his plans to move Ethiopia and the region forward.

“If you ask me, ‘Do you want to go to Asmara and sit down and negotiate with Isaias Afwerki?’ Then, I will say yes’,” Hailemariam said in an interview with Al Jazeera to be broadcast on Saturday.

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 Ethiopia.

“The most important thing for us is to fight poverty … 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, that is considered among the continent’s longest and most bitter.

Hailemariam, who took office after longtime ruler Meles Zenawi died in August, said that reaching out to Asmara was following the policy of his predecessor.

“My predecessor Meles Zenawi had asked for more than 50 times even to go to Asmara and negotiate with Mister Isaias Afwerki,” he said.

Ethiopia and Eritrea routinely accuse each other of backing armed groups to destabilise the other.

In March, Ethiopia attacked an Eritrean military base after the killing of five European tourists in blamed on Asmara.

Source: Al Jazeera

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Update on similar topic
Dec. 12, 2012

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn: ‘Eritreans are our Cousins’

Ethiopia Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said Eritreans are not only our neighbors but our cousins, more than anyone else in the Horn of Africa. Speacking to Girum Chala of CCTV, the Prime Minister said, he is eager to speak with Eritrean President Isyas Afeworki to normalize the relationship between the two countries. He said, the two countries differ in policies, but Ethiopia has no problem with the people of Eritrea and would like to dialogue with the Eritrean government. He said this is a sign of strength and not weakness and urges the Eritrean people to push their government for a dialogue with Ethiopia.