Biden “expressed concern that the ongoing hostilities, including recent air strikes, continue to cause civilian casualties and suffering,” according to a readout of the call from the White House.
Before that strike, at least 146 people had been killed and 213 injured in air strikes in Tigray since October 18, according to a document prepared by aid agencies and shared with Reuters this week.
Tigrayan forces and Ethiopia’s federal government have been engaged in conflict since November 2020, when Abiy ordered a military offensive in Tigray following lengthy disputes over the governance of the region.
On Monday, Biden and Abiy discussed “opportunities to advance peace and reconciliation,” according to the White House readout. The two leaders also discussed ways to “accelerate dialogue toward a negotiated ceasefire, the urgency of improving humanitarian access across Ethiopia, and the need to address the human rights concerns of all affected Ethiopians, including concerns about detentions of Ethiopians under the state of emergency,” it said.
In a separate statement issued on Monday, Abiy’s office said the Prime Minister and Biden discussed “current issues in Ethiopia, bilateral relations as well as regional issues.”
The Ethiopian readout added that Abiy “shared” with Biden “the status of Ethiopia’s rule of law operations in the northern part of the country as well as the efforts being made by the government to address issues in relation to humanitarian assistance, human rights and rebuilding efforts in recently liberated areas.”
The leader of Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region had announced a withdrawal of rebel forces from neighboring areas in the country in December, a move that had raised hopes that the fighting might soon come to an end.
Over a year of fighting has left thousands dead, displaced more than 2 million people, fueled famine, and given rise to a wave of atrocities.
CNN’s Betsy Klein, Niamh Kennedy, Zeena Saifi, Larry Madowo and Eliza Mackintosh contributed reporting.