Ethiopia’s request for sea access rattles port custodians Eritrea

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The Ethiopian government is trying to stem a potential diplomatic falling-out with Eritrea, with whom it only restored relations three years ago, after its leader hinted at seeking access to the sea for his country’s economic and geopolitical needs.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, in a speech in parliament last Sunday, spoke of seeking access to the sea, which he argued was central to the country’s ambitions and said it needed to be addressed “to prevent future generations from resorting to conflict. This can be achieved through discussions on investment options, shares and leases. However, dismissing it entirely as a topic of conversation is a mistake,” he said, according to the Ethiopian News Agency.

“We are not insisting on Massawa or Assab specifically. What we seek is an accessible gateway. However, it may materialise — be it through purchase, leasing, or any mutual arrangement — that’s our objective,” Ahmed said, referring to the Eritrean port cities, once the country’s key gates to the outside world.

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