Biden appoints special envoy for the Horn of Africa amid conflict in Ethiopia

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Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday announced veteran diplomat and former senior State Department official Jeffrey Feltman will serve as U.S. special envoy for the Horn of Africa.

Blinken had stated the necessity of appointing a full-time senior official to focus on the region in a hearing with lawmakers last month.

The Biden administration has condemned reports of atrocities committed in Ethiopia’s Tigray region and is engaged in trying to resolve ongoing regional disputes over a massive dam project.

Blinken said in a statement that Feltman’s appointment “underscores the Administration’s commitment to lead an international diplomatic effort to address the interlinked political, security, and humanitarian crises in the Horn of Africa.”

“At a moment of profound change for this strategic region, high-level U.S. engagement is vital to mitigate the risks posed by escalating conflict while providing support to once-in-a-generation opportunities for reform,” he added.

Feltman was most recently a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution, where he focused on international diplomacy. He came to that position following six years at the United Nations, where he served as under secretary-general for political affairs. The position made him a key adviser of then-Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and his successor, António Guterres.

Feltman also served for 26 years as a career foreign service officer at the State Department and held numerous senior positions, most recently as assistant secretary of State for Near Eastern affairs beginning in 2009 until his retirement from the agency in 2012.

He served as U.S. ambassador to Lebanon between 2004 and 2009 and other foreign postings included Iraq, Israel, Tunisia, Jordan, Hungary and Haiti.

“Having held senior positions in both the State Department and the United Nations, Special Envoy Feltman is uniquely suited to bring decades of experience in Africa and the Middle East, in multilateral diplomacy, and in negotiation and mediation to develop and execute an integrated U.S. strategy to address these complex regional issues,” Blinken said.

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