0554 GMT September 26, 2022
There has been a flurry of diplomatic efforts to push for negotiations after fighting flared in northern Ethiopia in late August for the first time in several months, torpedoing a humanitarian truce and cutting off aid deliveries to war-stricken Tigray, according to AFP.
Tigrayan authorities said Sunday they were "prepared to participate in a robust peace process under the auspices of the African Union," after previously rejecting AU mediation and saying they wanted Kenya to lead any talks.
"We are ready to abide by an immediate and mutually agreed cessation of hostilities," Tigray's regional government said in a statement coinciding with Ethiopia's new year.
Untold numbers of civilians have been killed since the war erupted in Africa's second most populous country in November 2020, and the fighting has left millions of people across northern Ethiopia in need of emergency aid.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged "the parties to seize this opportunity for peace and to take steps to end the violence definitively and opt for dialogue".
AU Commission chief Moussa Faki Mahamat also welcomed 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".
Similar messages were issued by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.
Fighting has raged on several fronts in northern Ethiopia since hostilities resumed on August 24, with both sides accusing the other of firing first and breaking a March truce.
The TPLF also accused Ethiopia and neighbouring Eritrea – whose forces were involved in the early phase of the war – of having launched a massive joint offensive on Tigray on September 1.