- The US Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa, Mike Hammer, is due in SA this month.
- SA is expected to play a bigger role in finding solutions to crises in Ethiopia, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
- Hammer will meet with the Ethiopian government and AU officials in Addis Ababa.
South Africa could play more than just a cameo role in the African Union (AU)-led peace initiative in Tigray, a region in northern Ethiopia.
The United States-South Africa Working Group on African and Global Issues met in Washington DC on 27 September, where both countries deliberated on the renewed fighting in Ethiopia.
During the meeting, the US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Victoria Nuland, and the director-general of SA's Department of International Relations and Cooperation, Zane Dangor, reviewed "pressing and high-profile issues of mutual concern to the US and South African governments".
There were also issues related to Zimbabwe and the insurgency in Mozambique.
For these issues, Nuland and Dangor were joined by the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for African Affairs, Ervin Massinga, and the Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa, Mike Hammer.
Hammer is also expected in South Africa, Kenya and Ethiopia for a three-nation tour.
The tour began on Monday and will round up on 18 October.
In a statement, the US State Department said Hammer would arrive in Pretoria as a follow-up to the 27 September engagement to find a solid AU-led solution in Ethiopia.
"Following up on discussions on the situation in northern Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa, held in Washington on 27 September, during the US-South Africa Working Group on African and Global Issues, Special Envoy Hammer will travel to Pretoria to meet with South African government officials to advance efforts in support of the African Union-led mediation effort," the department said.
It was not immediately clear what role SA would play, because the AU initiative in Ethiopia is led by former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo, who is the AU High Representative for the Horn of Africa.
Hammer will meet with Kenyan government officials, international partners, non-governmental organisations and others involved in regional efforts to build peace and facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid to those in need.
Kenya is the strongest economy in the east African community, sharing its northern border with Ethiopia. The two countries have trade and cultural ties that the US will seek to leverage for a workable solution to the conflict.
Hammer will meet with the Ethiopian government and AU officials in Addis Ababa.
He will also meet with UN officials and other partners delivering humanitarian aid in response to the conflict in northern Ethiopia and providing drought relief.
In order to resolve the conflict and achieve national reconciliation, Hammer will emphasise the importance of accountability on human rights issues.
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