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Tigray leader invited to peace talks with Ethiopia

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — The leader of Ethiopia’s troubled Tigray region has been invited to peace talks in South Africa this weekend as part of a pan-African effort to end one of the world’s most neglected wars, according to a letter seen by The Associated Press.

If Debretsion Gebremichael attends the proposed talks between the Tigray and Ethiopian camps, it will be the highest-profile initiative yet to end the two-year war, which has claimed thousands of lives through violence and famine.

The Ethiopian government accepted the invitation, according to national security adviser Redwan Hussein. In a separate statement, the government said holding AU-mediated talks without preconditions was “consistent with previous Ethiopian government positions.” The statement did not give details on who might attend the meetings.

The African Union had not yet received a response from the Tigray camp, said a diplomat in Addis Ababa. Tigray forces spokesman Getachew Reda could not be immediately reached.

Representatives from the European Union, the United Nations and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, a regional body, were expected to attend the meeting as observers to support the AU mediation team, according to the diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity. because he was not authorized to make public statements.

The letter from the president of the African Union Commission indicated that the talks sponsored by the AU intend to “lay the foundations for continued mediation” between the two parties with a view to a “lasting resolution of the conflict.”

The letter indicated that the talks would be coordinated by the EU special envoy and former Nigerian president Olesegun Obasanjo, with the support of former Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta and former South African vice president Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.

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