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Eritrea – United States relations
Eritrea   United States
Map indicating location of Eritrea and USA
     Eritrea      United States

Eritrea-United States relations are bilateral relations between Eritrea and the United States. Ronald K. McMullen is the U.S. Ambassador to Eritrea.


The U.S. government (USG) established a consulate in Asmara in 1942. In 1953, the USG signed a Mutual Defense Treaty with Ethiopia. The treaty granted the United States control and expansion of the important British military communications base at Kagnew near Asmara. In the 1960s, as many as 4,000 U.S. military personnel were stationed at Kagnew. In the 1970s, technological advances in the satellite and communications fields were making the communications station at Kagnew increasingly obsolete.

Embassy of Eritrea in Washington, D.C.

In 1974, Kagnew Station drastically reduced its personnel complement. In early 1977, the United States informed the Ethiopian government that it intended to close Kagnew Station permanently by September 30, 1977. In the meantime, U.S. relations with the Mengistu regime worsened. In April 1977, Mengistu abrogated the 1953 mutual defense treaty and ordered a reduction of U.S. personnel in Ethiopia, including the closure of Kagnew Communications Center and the consulate in Asmara. In August 1992, the United States reopened its consulate in Asmara, staffed with one officer. On April 27, 1993, the United States recognized Eritrea as an independent state, and on June 11, diplomatic relations were established with the appointment of a chargé d'affaires. The first U.S. Ambassador arrived later that year.

The United States has provided substantial assistance to Eritrea, including food and development aid. In 2004, the United States provided over $65 million in humanitarian aid to Eritrea, including $58.1 million in food assistance and $3.47 million to support refugees. In 2005, the Eritrean government told USAID to cease operations. USAID complied.

U.S. interests in Eritrea include consolidating the peace with Ethiopia, encouraging progress toward establishing a democratic political culture, supporting Eritrean efforts to become constructively involved in solving regional problems, assisting Eritrea in dealing with its humanitarian and development needs, and promoting economic reform.

The U.S. Embassy is in Asmara. Jennifer McIntyre is the Deputy Chief of Mission. Brian Shelbourn is the Consular Officer. Matthew Smith is the Management Officer. The Public Affairs Officer is Margery Benson. The Political/Military Officer and Defense Attache positions are vacant.

Relations between the two nations met notable strain in 2009, when U.S. intelligence implicated that Eritrea has actively supported Muslim terrorist groups such as al-Shabaab in war-torn Somalia, where they have beaten back the UN-backed Transitional Federal Government in the south and conquered most of Mogadishu, the nation's capital. During her African tour in August 2009, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton accused Eritrea of supporting al-Shabaab and has threatened to "take action" against Eritrea if it does not cease its alleged support for the rebels, while also voicing her nation's support for the legitimate government. Eritrea denies these claims.

See also


PD-icon.svg This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Department of State (Background Notes).



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