Somalia rejects Ethiopia's quest for negotiations over Red Sea access


MOGADISHU, Somalia - Ethiopia's quest to have negotiations over access to the Red Sea suffered a huge blow on Wednesday, with the Federal Republic of Somalia dismissing the move, noting that it is "not interested" in granting access to strategic assets like the port.

Being a landlocked country, Ethiopia has struggled to export and import goods from overseas, forcing it to entirely depend on the Port of Djibouti and the newly constructed Port of Berbera in Somalia. The cost of importation directly affects the country's economy.

Ali Omar, Somalia's Foreign Affairs minister, said the country will defend its assets such as the ports, and would only discuss trade and business with partners. Somalia is committed to enhancing peace, security, trade, and integration, he added.

"Somalia is highly committed to and values efforts aimed at enhancing regional peace and security, regional trade and integrations to increase economic development," the minister said in a statement published on his official X account.

"We welcome trade and business partnerships that align with international law and best business practices," Omar added while emphasizing the need for "honest" and "mutual" cooperation between entities.

Ethiopia PM Abiy Ahmed Ali was quoted as saying his country had “natural rights” to directly access the Red Sea, and if it was denied this “there will be no fairness and justice and if there is no fairness and justice, it’s a matter of time, we will fight.”

The Prime Minister suggested his government could grant shares in its Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam in return for similar stakes in ports in neighboring countries. The dam, once fully operationalized, would serve neighboring states with uninterrupted power.

Ethiopia has expanded her entry and exit options to Berbera Port due to congestion at the Port of Djibouti. There are also plans by the country to use Port of Lamu in Kenya but the LAPSSET project which started over a decade ago, is yet to be completed.


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