Ethiopia peace talks extended as disarmament, aid discussed

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — The latest round of peace talks between Ethiopia’s government and representatives of the country’s Tigray region has been extended as military commanders work out details on disarmament of Tigray forces after two years of conflict.

An official familiar with the talks confirmed the extension into Thursday, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly. The talks that began Monday in Kenya had been set to end Wednesday.

The African Union-led talks follow last week’s signing of a “permanent cessation of hostilities” in the conflict that is estimated to have killed hundreds of thousands of people.

The agreement calls for the disarmament of Tigray forces within weeks, but there is concern about when other combatants who aren’t part of the deal will withdraw from Tigray. They include forces from Eritrea, which neighbors the region, and Ethiopia’s Amhara region.

Other issues discussed at this round of talks include the restoration of basic services like internet, telecommunications and banking to the region of more than 5 million people, as well as the resumption of deliveries of humanitarian aid.

The United Nations on Wednesday said they and partners were still waiting on access to a region where even some basic medical supplies have run out. World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who is from Ethiopia, told reporters he had expected aid to resume “immediately” after the peace deal’s signing.

The lead negotiator for Ethiopia’s government, Redwan Hussein, has said that “maybe by the end of this week or the middle of next week” humanitarian aid will be allowed to go in.

United Nations-backed investigators have said Ethiopian forces resorted to “starvation of civilians” as a weapon in the conflict marked by abuses on all sides.

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