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Ethiopia's Abiy Ahmed downplays war risk with Somalia over Somaliland deal

Ethiopian premier has said his country has no intention of fighting with Somalia and that it's ready to negotiate with Egypt and Sudan on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance (GERD) standoff.

Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said Tuesday that he does not intend to go to war with Somalia over his country’s quest for sea access. 

Tensions are boiling in the volatile Horn of Africa over a controversial Ethiopian agreement with the breakaway region of Somaliland. On Jan. 1, Ethiopia’s Ahmed and Somaliland leader Muse Bihi Abdi signed a memorandum of understanding that would give Addis Ababa access to the Red Sea through the port of Berbera in exchange for recognizing Somaliland’s independence.

The deal was widely condemned by Somalia, which considers Somaliland part of its territory and threatened to go to war with Ethiopia to stop it from recognizing the territory.

Speaking at a mosque in the presidential complex on Jan. 13, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud called Ethiopia an “enemy” and vowed to defend Somalia against any “Ethiopian aggression.” He also called on Somalis to take up arms to defend the country’s territorial integrity.

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