Foreign relations of Eritrea

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The foreign relations of Eritrea are the policies of the Eritrean government by which it administers its external relations with other nations. Eritrea's relationship with the United States is complicated. Although the two nations have a close working relationship regarding the ongoing war on terror, there has been a growing tension in other areas. Eritrea's relationship with the EU has become equally strained in many areas in the last few years. Eritrea has very tense relations with neighboring countries Ethiopia and Djibouti.

International organizations

Eritrea is a member of the United Nations, the African Union, and is an observing member of the Arab League.

Eritrea holds a seat on the United Nations' Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ).

Eritrea also holds memberships in the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, International Finance Corporation, International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), Non-Aligned Movement, Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, Permanent Court of Arbitration, and the World Customs Organization.


Eritrea broke diplomatic relations with the Sudan in December 1994. This action was taken after a long period of increasing tension between the two countries due to a series of cross-border incidents involving the Eritrean Islamic Jihad (EIJ). Although the attacks did not pose a threat to the stability of the Government of Eritrea (the infiltrators have generally been killed or captured by government forces), the Eritreans believe the National Islamic Front (NIF) in Khartoum supported, trained, and armed the insurgents. After many months of negotiations with the Sudanese to try to end the incursions, the Government of Eritrea concluded that the NIF did not intend to change its policy and broke relations. Subsequently, the Government of Eritrea hosted a conference of Sudanese opposition leaders in June 1995 in an effort to help the opposition unite and to provide a credible alternative to the present government in Khartoum. Eritrea resumed diplomatic relations with Sudan on December 10, 2005.[1] Since then, Sudan has accused Eritrea, along with Chad, of supporting rebels.[2] The undemarcated border with Sudan previously posed a problem for Eritrean external relations.[3]

After a high-level delegation to the Sudan from the Eritrean Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ties are being normalized. While normalization of ties continues, Eritrea has been recognized as a broker for peace between the separate factions of the Sudanese civil war. "It is known that Eritrea played a role in bringing about the peace agreement [between the Southern Sudanese and Government],"[4] while the Sudanese Government and Eastern Front rebels have requested Eritrea to mediate peace talks.[5] The Eritrean President, Isaias Afewerki, and his Sudanese counterpart Omar Al-Bashir held talks in Asmara on a number of bilateral issues of mutual concern to the two East African countries. The talks dealt with enhancing bilateral ties and cooperation including making their shared border more open. Sudan and Eritrea agreed to abolish entry visa requirements, opening their common borders for free movement of both nationals.[6] In 2011, Eritrea and Sudan cooperated in the building of the Kassala-Al Lafa Highway linking the two countries.[7]


A dispute with Yemen over the Hanish Islands in 1996 resulted in a brief war. As part of an agreement to cease hostilities, the nations agreed to refer the issue to the Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Hague. At the conclusion of the proceedings, both nations acquiesced to the 1998 decision which said sovereignty should be shared.[8]


Eritrea's foreign relations with Ethiopia are adversarial.[9] Immediately after Eritrea's independence from Ethiopia, relations were cordial despite the former relationship. Since independence Eritrea's relationship with Ethiopia was entirely political, especially in the resuscitation and expansion of IGAD's scope. Since 1998 and the Eritrean–Ethiopian War, the relationship became increasingly hostile.

In December 2000, Eritrea and Ethiopia signed a peace treaty ending their war and created a pair of binding judicial commissions, the Eritrea-Ethiopia Border Commission and the Eritrean-Ethiopian Claims Commission, to rule on their disputed border and related claims. On April 2002 The Commission released its decision (with a clarification in 2003).[10] Disagreements following the war have resulted in stalemate punctuated by periods of elevated tension and renewed threats of war.[11][12] Since these decisions Ethiopia has refused to permit the physical demarcation of the border while Eritrea insists the border must be demarcated as defined by the Commission. Consequently, the Boundary Commission ruled boundary as virtually demarcated and effective.

Eritrea maintains a military force on its border with Ethiopia roughly equal in size to Ethiopia's force, which has required a general mobilization of a significant portion of the population.[13] Eritrea has viewed this border dispute as an existential threat to itself in particular and the African Union in general, because it deals with the supremacy of colonial boundaries in Africa.[14] Since the border conflict Ethiopia no longer uses Eritrean ports for its trade.[15]

During the border conflict and since, Ethiopia has fostered militants against Eritrea (including ethnic separatists and religiously based organizations).[16] Eritrea has retaliated by hosting militant groups against Ethiopia as well. The United Nations Security Council argues that Eritrea and Ethiopia have expanded their dispute to a second theater, Somalia.[17]

On March 2012, Ethiopia attacked Eritrean army outposts along the border. Addis Ababa said the assault was in retaliation for the training and support given by Asmara to subversives while Eritrea said the U.S knew of the attacks, an accusation denied by US officials.[18]


Eritrea developed relations with Israel shortly after gaining its independence in 1993, despite protests among Arab countries. Israeli-Eritrean relations are close. The president of Eritrea has visited Israel for medical treatment.[19] However, Eritrea condemned Israeli military action during the 2008–2009 Israel–Gaza conflict.[20] Israeli-Eritrean ties are complicated by Israel's close ties to Ethiopia, who have shared an unfriendly dyad with Eritrea for a long time.

South Korea

Diplomatic relations between the Republic of Korea and the State of Eritrea were established on 24 May 1993.[21]

United States

Main article: US-Eritrea relations

Diplomatic relations between The United States and The State of Eritrea were established on May 24, 1993.

United Arab Emirates

The United Arab Emirates are a member of the Saudi-led coalition against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Foreign Minister Osman Saleh Mohammed is quoted stating the UAE are using "logistical facilities at the port and airport" in the southern city of Assab.[22]

See also


  1. "Sudan, Eritrea resume severed diplomatic relations". Retrieved 2006-09-04.
  2. Eritrea, Chad accused of aiding Sudan rebels, afrol News, September 7. Retrieved 2009-03-15
  3. "Eritrea-Sudan relations plummet". London: BBC. 2004-01-15. Retrieved 2006-06-07.
  4. "Turabi terms USA "world's ignoramuses", fears Sudan's partition". Sudan Tribune. 2005-11-04. Archived from the original on 2006-07-18. Retrieved 2006-06-07.
  5. "Sudan demands Eritrean mediation with eastern Sudan rebels". Sudan Tribune. 2006-04-18. Archived from the original on 2006-05-19. Retrieved 2006-06-07.
  6. "Eritrean, Sudanese leaders hold talks in Asmara
  7. "Sudan-Eritrea road to boost ties: Emir". Retrieved 2011-10-27.
  8. "Flights back on between Yemen and Eritrea". London: BBC. 1998-12-13. Retrieved 2006-06-07.
  9. "Ethiopia, Eritrea Accuse Each Other of Starting Border Fight". NYC: NYT. 2016-06-14. Retrieved 2016-06-14.
  10. "Q&A: Horn's bitter border war". London: BBC. 2005-12-07. Retrieved 2006-06-07.
  11. "Horn tensions trigger UN warning". London: BBC. 2004-02-04. Retrieved 2006-06-07.
  12. "Horn border tense before deadline". London: BBC. 2005-12-23. Retrieved 2006-06-07.
  13. "Army build-up near Horn frontier". London: BBC. 2005-11-02. Retrieved 2006-06-07.
  14. "Eritrea warns Ethiopia on border". BBC News. 2003-04-04. Retrieved 2012-02-01.
  15. "Ethiopia rejects Eritrean ports". BBC News. 2002-11-18. Retrieved 2012-02-01.
  16. "Eritrea Accuses Ethiopia of Border Attacks". VOA News. Voice of America. 27 December 2007. Retrieved 2008-12-27.
  17. Report of the Monitoring Group on Somalia pursuant to Security Council resolution 1853 (2008). Monitoring Group on Somalia. 2010-03-10.
  18. "Eritrean President Discusses Path to Development", May 18, 2012.
  19. Eritrea-Israel relations
  20. WebCite query result
  22. "Has Eritrea's migration problem been exaggerated?". BBC.
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