Eritrea agreed to start pulling its troops from Ethiopia’s Tigray region, making its first public admission to having troops in the neighboring country, in a letter to the United Nations Security Council.
The development follows comments Thursday by UN aid chief Mark Lowcock to the Security Council asserting that there was no proof Eritrean forces were withdrawing.
“Eritrea and Ethiopia have agreed – at the highest levels – to embark on the withdrawal of Eritrean forces and the simultaneous redeployment of Ethiopian contingents along the international boundary, Sophia Tesfamariam, Eritrea’s UN Ambassador, said in the letter posted on Eritrea’s Information Ministry’s website.
Eritrea did not give a timeline for the withdrawal.
Last month, days after he announced Eritrea’s presence in the region, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced Eritrea would withdraw its forces.
The U.S. and the European Union have on several occasions called on Eritrean troops to leave Tigray after reports of looting, sexual violence, assaults in refugee camps and other human-rights abuses.
Eritrea accused the Tigray People’s Liberation Front of starting the conflict with an “unprovoked attack and firing missiles at Eritrea’s capital, Asmara, in the early stages of the war.
Abiy, who won the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to resolve a longstanding border conflict with Eritrea, ordered an incursion into Tigray after TPLF forces attacked a federal military camp in the region. The descent into violence followed months of tensions between federal and regional authorities.