President BidenJoe BidenAustralia agrees to .5 billion tank deal with US: reportJim Jordan rejects Jan. 6 panel’s request to cooperate in investigationSALT change on ice in the SenateMORE spoke with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Monday about the ongoing conflict in Ethiopia and expressed concerns about recent air strikes that have led to civilian deaths in the region, according to the White House.

President Biden expressed concern that the ongoing hostilities, including recent air strikes, continue to cause civilian casualties and suffering, and he reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to work alongside the African Union and regional partners to help Ethiopians peacefully resolve the conflict, the White House said in a readout of the call.  

Both leaders underscored the importance of the U.S.-Ethiopia relationship, the potential to strengthen cooperation on a range of issues, and the need for concrete progress to resolve the conflict. 

The White House also said that Biden commended Abiy for announcing last week that the government would release high-profile political prisoners and that he two discussed ways to negotiate a ceasefire in the region amid ongoing violence.  

In a tweet, Abiy characterized the phone call as candid and said it covered Ethiopia and regional issues as well as bilateral relations. 

We both agree there is great value in strengthening our cooperation through constructive engagement founded on mutual respect, Abiy wrote.

I held a candid phone conversation with @POTUS on current issues in Ethiopia, bilateral relations as well as regional matters. We both agree there is great value in strengthening our cooperation through constructive engagement founded on mutual respect.

Abiy Ahmed Ali (@AbiyAhmedAli) January 10, 2022

The phone call took place two months after the Biden administration unveiled sanctions targeting the Eritrean government over the conflict in Ethiopia, which has persisted for more than a year. The Eritrean government has aligned itself with the central Ethiopian government in fighting rebel Tigrayan forces in northern Ethiopia.

An executive order that Biden signed last September also empowered the departments of Treasury and State to impose sanctions against the Ethiopian government and the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front, but the administration has not yet sanctioned individuals or groups affiliated with those parties to the conflict.

Hundreds of people are believed to have been killed or wounded by airstrikes in Ethiopia over the past few months.

Reuters reported that aid workers said an Ethiopian military airstrike in the Tigray region late last week killed 56 people and wounded at least 30 in a camp for individuals displaced by the conflict.