Ethiopia's government has rebuked U.S. and European envoys who visited Tigray rebel leaders this week, accusing them of siding with the rebels.
A senior Ethiopian official has accused EU and U.S. diplomats of "indulging" rebels in the northern Tigray region, after the envoys called for the restoration of services to the province.
In recent weeks, both the federal government and the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) have said they are willing to negotiate an end to the country's civil war, which began in November 2020.
Federal officials have said they are ready to start talks immediately and "without preconditions," but the TPLF is insisting that services are restored to Tigray before negotiations commence.
Following a visit to Tigray's regional capital, Mekelle, on August 2, U.S. special envoy to the Horn of Africa, Mike Hammer, and his EU counterpart, Anette Weber, called for "unfettered" humanitarian access to Tigray and for the "swift restoration of electricity, telecom, banking and other basic services" in the region.
In response, Redwan Hussein, the Ethiopian prime minister's national security adviser, said he was "dismayed" by the envoys' position, saying they "failed to press for equivocal commitment for peace talks" and "indulged in appeasement" toward the TPLF.
He also said the issue of humanitarian access has "already been long addressed."
In recent months there has been a large increase in aid trucks entering Tigray, but humanitarian agencies say fuel shortages in the region hinder the distribution of supplies.
The Tigray conflict has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced millions more in northern Ethiopia.
At a press conference after the U.S. and EU envoys left Mekelle, TPLF spokesperson Getachew Reda said his side believes "the only game in town is talking, because its alternative, shooting, will have disastrous consequences."
Yet many issues remain unaddressed, including the mediator and venue for talks.
The government is pushing for a process mediated by the African Union, while the TPLF has expressed a preference for talks in Nairobi under the auspices of Kenya and the U.S.