Envoy says US aiming for warmer ties with Eritrea

The United States wants better ties with Eritrea following this month's lifting of UN sanctions against the Horn of Africa nation, Washington's top Africa diplomat said on Friday.

The UN Security Council sanctioned Eritrea in 2009 for supporting Al-Shabaab militants in Somalia but lifted the restrictions following the July signing of a peace deal that ended 20 years of conflict with neighbouring Ethiopia.

Relations between Washington and Eritrea have long been frosty but US Assistant Secretary of State Tibor Nagy told journalists ahead of a trip to the capital Asmara that he hopes that will change.

"We would like to have the same type of positive relations with Eritrea as we do with Ethiopia," a key ally Nagy said during a visit to its capital Addis Ababa.

Eritrea is considered one of the world's most repressive countries, and Nagy suggested to Congress in September that the US would only support lifting sanctions if Asmara reformed.

Among his concerns were Eritrea's continuing detention of US citizens and Eritrean embassy employees as well as its purchases of arms from North Korea.

However the US ultimately backed the Security Council resolution lifting sanctions, a shift diplomats attributed to national security adviser John Bolton, who dealt with the Eritrea-Ethiopia conflict when he served as UN ambassador.

Once a province of Ethiopia, Eritrea voted for independence in 1993 then five years later fought a two-year war against its southern neighbour that ground into a stalemate.

The two countries normalised relations following Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's June announcement that his government would honour a UN ruling ceding disputed border territory to Eritrea.

The countries' rapprochement raised hopes Asmara would release jailed dissidents and end much criticised policies such as an indefinite national service scheme that forces people into government jobs at low pay.

But Asmara has made no such changes, which Nagy alluded to on Friday.

"The United States obviously continues to have some outstanding issues with Eritrea," he said.

* Sign up to News24's top Africa news in your inbox: SUBSCRIBE TO THE HELLO AFRICA NEWSLETTER

FOLLOW News24 Africa on Twitter and Facebook

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Gauteng DA leader Solly Msimanga says the party's voters want it to explore conditional coalition talks with the ANC. 
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
It's a step in the right direction. An ANC-DA coalition would be the most stable option for SA
32% - 3267 votes
The DA should focus on working with all opposition parties, including the EFF, to unseat the ANC
14% - 1462 votes
The DA should rather remain in opposition than form a coalition with the ANC or the EFF
53% - 5361 votes
Vote
Rand - Dollar
17.08
+0.5%
Rand - Pound
20.50
+0.2%
Rand - Euro
17.73
+0.1%
Rand - Aus dollar
11.44
-0.2%
Rand - Yen
0.12
+0.3%
Gold
1,753.72
+0.7%
Silver
21.33
+1.9%
Palladium
1,876.05
+1.5%
Platinum
1,005.76
+1.3%
Brent Crude
83.19
-0.5%
Top 40
66,994
0.0%
All Share
73,368
0.0%
Resource 10
70,795
0.0%
Industrial 25
88,376
0.0%
Financial 15
16,389
0.0%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE