ADDIS ABABA, Jan. 17 (Xinhua) -- The African Union (AU) on Wednesday called on Ethiopia and Somalia to exercise restraint and take steps to de-escalate the current tensions amid deteriorating diplomatic relations between the two countries.
The call was made by the AU's Peace and Security Council in a statement that followed its meeting held on Wednesday, which dwelt upon the current situation in the relations between Ethiopia and Somalia. The council called on the two Horn of Africa countries to "engage in meaningful dialogue towards finding a peaceful resolution of the matter in the spirit of African solutions to African problems."
It encouraged the two countries to refrain from further actions and pronouncements that could negatively impact "the strong bonds of good neighborliness, friendship and solidarity existing between them."
The council expressed its "deep concern" over the ongoing tension between the two countries and its potential adverse impact on the peace, security and stability of the wider region.
Tensions continue to mount in relations between Ethiopia and Somalia after Ethiopia and Somaliland, a self-declared region of Somalia, signed an agreement earlier this month, allowing Ethiopia access to the Red Sea in return for its recognition of Somaliland as an independent state.
Somalia, which views Somaliland as part of its territory, described the agreement as having no legal force and summoned its ambassador to Ethiopia for deliberations over the agreement signed between Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Somaliland leader Muse Bihi Abdi on Monday.
The council "unequivocally reaffirmed its strong commitment and support for preserving the unity, territorial integrity, independence and sovereignty of all member states, including those of Ethiopia and Somalia."
Reiterating its resolve to remain actively seized of the matter, the council announced the deployment of Olusegun Obasanjo, the AU high representative for the Horn of Africa and former president of Nigeria, by the Chairperson of the AU Commission to foster dialogue between the two countries and provide regular updates to the council.
It called on the two countries to adhere to and be guided by the core principles of the AU and international law in their bilateral and international relations. Meanwhile, the council urged external actors to abide by the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of the two AU member states. ■