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Eritrea responds to Ethiopia’s PM controversial Red Sea remark

Abiy Ahmed

Authorities in Eritrea said they would not be “drawn into” conversations about Ethiopia’s access to the Red Sea following controversial comments from Addis Ababa.

While addressing lawmakers, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said access to the Red Sea is “a matter of existence” for his country.

“The Red Sea and the Nile River define Ethiopia; They are the foundations for Ethiopia’s development or its demise,” Mr Abiy said, in remarks some commentators said could cause friction with Eritrea.

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Ethiopia became Africa’s largest landlocked country following Eritrea’s secession from it in 1993. It has since depended on its tiny neighbor Djibouti for over 85% of its imports and exports.

Ethiopia previously announced a plan to rebuild its navy a few years ago. Mr Abiy listed ports in Eritrea, Djbouti and Somaliland as facitilities that could be obtained peacefully.

A brief statement by Eritrea’s Ministry of Information on Monday said “discourses” about access to sea and related topics “floated in recent times” were “excessive” . It said the matter “has perplexed all concerned observers”.

Eritrea was the Addis Ababa government’s ally during a recent brutal war in the Ethiopian state of Tigray.

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Prime Minister Abiy also worked with Eritrean leader Isias Afeworki in 2018 to end a bitter two-decade war between the two nations.

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