Ethiopia has rejected efforts by neighbouring Sudan to mediate between Tigrayan rebels and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government.
Addis Ababa's reaction comes after reports that Sudanese Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok is preparing to launch a mediation plan between Ethiopian government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), with the support of the international community.
"The relationship with Sudan at this point is a little bit tricky because level of trust with some leaders has already be eroded particularly with the Sudanese army incursion into Ethiopian territory," the Ethiopian PM’s spokesperson Billene Seyoum said.
She said Sudan does not have the credibility - one of the key issues - to mediate in the dispute between the government and TPLF.
"Trust is the basis of any negotiation, any mediation as well, so that element needs to be thoroughly addressed before Sudan could be entertained as a credible party in terms of facilitating such kind of negotiations.”
Billene said Sudan must first withdraw its troops from Ethiopian territories before playing any negotiation roles.
Sudan has taken control of most of the land up to 60 kilometers deep inside Ethiopia, which it accuses of annexing previously.
Tensions along the border flared in December last year, one month after the outbreak of conflict in Ethiopia's northern Tigray region, which forced over 60,000 people, mainly Tigrayan refugees, to flee to eastern Sudan.
Disputes over the agricultural land of al-Fashqa, which falls within Sudan's international boundaries, coupled with unsettled disputes over Ethiopia's controversial Nile dam project have strained relations between the two neighbours.
The Ethiopian PM’s spokesperson said Sudan cannot be a credible mediator at a time when relations between Khartoum and Addis Ababa are strained.
Earlier, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken had a telephone conversation with PM Hamdok on the Tigray conflict which has spilled to the neighboring Amhara and Afar regions.
They also discussed the worsening humanitarian crisis in Tigray as well as the reentry of Eritrean forces in the region.
Both sides reportedly agreed to find a lasting solution to the conflict in northern Ethiopia, which has killed tens of thousands of people.