Ethiopia's Tigray rebels ready for AU-led peace talks with government
The Ethiopia's Tigray rebels disclosed on Sunday that they were ever ready for a peace talk process orchestrated by the African Union, that is expected to bring an end to the bloody warfare.
The announcement was made amid a flurry of international diplomacy after fighting flared last month for the first time in several months in northern Ethiopia, torpedoing a humanitarian truce.
"The government of Tigray is prepared to participate in a robust peace process under the auspices of the African Union," said a statement by the Tigrayan authorities.
"Furthermore, we are ready to abide by an immediate and mutually agreed cessation of hostilities in order to create a conducive atmosphere."
The Ethiopian government has previously said it was ready for unconditional talks "anytime, anywhere," brokered by the Addis Ababa-headquartered AU.
The Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) had until now vehemently opposed the role of the AU's Horn of Africa envoy Olusegun Obasanjo, protesting his "proximity" to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.
AU Commission chief Moussa Faki Mahamat issued a statement welcoming the development as a "unique opportunity towards the restoration of peace" and urged "both parties to urgently work towards an immediate ceasefire, engage in direct talks".
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called in a statement for "the parties to seize this opportunity for peace and to take steps to end the violence definitively and opt for dialogue."
He said the United Nations is ready to support the AU-led peace process.
Taye Dendea, Ethiopia's state minister for peace, described the TPLF announcement as a "nice development" on Twitter but insisted the "so-called TDF (Tigray Defence Forces) must be disarmed before peace talks start. Clear stand!"