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ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia – Ethiopia said Friday the relations Egypt wants to establish with territories [Somaliland] in the East Africa region must not come at the cost of Ethiopian interests.

Addressing a weekly news briefing, Ethiopian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Dina Mufti said, “Egypt as a sovereign country reserves the right to establish relations with any country [in the region]. But this should not come at the expense of Ethiopia’s stability.”

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Recent reports have said Egypt is trying to establish a military base in the Republic of Somaliland, a self-declared state in the Horn of Africa not recognized as an independent country.

Late in July, a delegation from Egypt met with Muse Bihi Abdi, Somaliland’s president, and reportedly proposed setting up a military camp in the northwestern part of the territory.

The Ethiopian government said it was following developments very closely.

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“That is a red line for us,” he said, adding that Ethiopia wants friendly relations with Somaliland, despite its non-state status.

Egypt-Somaliland Relations Must Not Come At The Cost Of Ethiopian Interests
The Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson, Amb. Dina Mufti addressing a weekly media briefing in Addis Ababa on Friday, August 7, 2020

Some analysts see Egypt’s move as retaliation against Somalia, a country that supports Ethiopia’s rights on the Nile as Ethiopia and Egypt continue to wrangle over Ethiopia’s $5 billion hydroelectric Nile dam, the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

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After the failure of US-sponsored talks this February between Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt, the African Union brought the three countries together for continued negotiations in June.

Last week, Ethiopia submitted a proposal on the filling of the dam – a proposal met with misgivings by Egypt and Sudan, which asked for time to review it.

Having gained its independence from Britain on June 26, 1960, Somaliland was an independent nation before voluntarily entering into a failed union with Somalia on July 1, 1960. However, following violations and massacres it had endured by the collapsed military regime in the same year in Somalia, it withdrew from the union and reclaimed its independence on 18 May 1991.

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