Ethiopian PM meets Burhan of Sudan, saying both are in “dialogue”

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said he met with Sudanese coup leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan in Nairobi on Tuesday and that both are committed to “dialogue” to resolve any differences.

Their talks followed a clash in a troubled border region last month in which Khartoum said Ethiopian forces captured and killed Sudanese soldiers. Addis Ababa refutes these claims.

“We both agreed that our two countries have many elements of cooperation that can be worked on peacefully,” Abiy wrote in a Twitter post, attaching a photo of the two men.

“Our common ties transcend any differences. Both of us have committed ourselves to dialogue and to peacefully resolve outstanding issues,” he said.

Both leaders were in Kenya’s capital for a regional body summit of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

Sudan’s ruling sovereign council only stated that a “closed meeting” had taken place between Burhan and Abiy.

Last week, IGAD and the African Union expressed concern over the escalation of tensions between Ethiopia and Sudan following the incident in the disputed Al-Fashakah border region.

Khartoum said the Ethiopian army had executed seven Sudanese soldiers and one civilian in a June 22 clash in al-Fashak, and announced the recall of its ambassador.

But Addis Ababa said that Sudanese forces crossed into Ethiopia and that the casualties came from a skirmish with local militias, denying that its soldiers were in the area at the time.

Al-Fashaka is a fertile strip of land that has long been a source of friction between Addis Ababa and Khartoum.

The region, near Ethiopia’s war-torn northern region of Tigray, has long been cultivated by Ethiopian farmers but is claimed by Sudan.

The dispute has sparked sporadic clashes between the two sides, some of which have been fatal.

The split is also fueling broader tensions between neighbors over land and water, especially fueled by Ethiopia’s Blue Nile megadam.

Sudan and Egypt, both downstream countries, opposed the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam and pushed for an agreement to fill its reservoir and operate the dam.

Tensions escalated further after fighting broke out in Tigray in November 2020, causing tens of thousands of refugees to flee to Sudan.