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Ethiopian PM meets Sudan army chief in push for ‘peace and security’

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Abiy Ahmed’s is the highest-level state visit to Sudan since the war began between the army and the paramilitary RSF in April 2023.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has met Sudan’s armed forces chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan as regional and world powers seek an end to the conflict between the military and paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

Sudan has been racked by war since April 2023, when fighting erupted between forces loyal to al-Burhan and the RSF led by his former deputy, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, widely known as Hemedti.

Ahmed’s visit on Tuesday to the Red Sea coastal town of Port Sudan, where the army-aligned government is based, is the highest-level state visit since the start of the conflict, which has threatened to destabilise the region, displaced millions of people and created the world’s largest humanitarian crisis.

The Sudan Sovereign Council said in a statement that the meeting was “a testament to the depth of relations” between the two countries.

Ahmed’s press secretary told Al Jazeera the purpose of the Ethiopian leader’s visit was to “achieve peace and security” in Sudan.

Reporting from Port Sudan, Al Jazeera’s Mohamed Vall said, however, “it’s not clear” what Ahmed’s proposals are.

In a closed-door meeting, al-Burhan briefed Ahmed on what he called the “crimes and atrocities” committed by the RSF as part of its “rebellion against the state and its institutions”, the council said.

Both sides have been accused of committing war crimes by United Nations officials and international rights groups.

“The visit comes amid reports of potential talks to be hosted in Uganda. Aside from that, the visit must serve as a breath of fresh air for the Sudanese military leaders who fear being boycotted by most of the outside world,” Al Jazeera’s Vall said.

Al-Burhan’s camp has so far largely shunned East African mediation attempts to end the war, accusing regional leaders of siding with the RSF.

In a recent interview with Al Jazeera, al-Burhan said the war had made clear who was an “enemy and who is a friend of the Sudanese people and the Sudanese state”.

“Many countries remain silent and turn a blind eye to the crimes being committed every day. Everyone who remains silent and everyone who supports what the other side is doing on a daily basis is for sure an enemy,” he said.

“Everyone who supports the Sudanese state and its institutions is a friend.”

The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said an estimated 10 million people have been forcibly displaced in Sudan since the war broke out. While about 7.7 million people are displaced internally, more than two million have fled to neighbouring countries – including Egypt, Chad, the Central African Republic and Ethiopia.

The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC), the UN hunger monitoring system, said Sudan is facing the worst food crisis in its history, with more than 755,000 people facing “catastrophe” in 10 out of 18 states, the most severe level of extreme hunger.

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