Ethiopia and Somaliland entered military collaboration talks on Monday, just a week after a contentious sea access agreement with Hargeisa, adding complexity to the geopolitical landscape in the Horn.

Ethiopia’s army chief, Birhanu Jula, engaged in discussions on military cooperation with Somaliland’s counterpart, Nuh Ismail Tani, as announced on Ethiopia’s military Facebook page.

The talks took place in Addis Ababa concurrently with Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s visit to neighboring Eritrea.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed had previously expressed readiness for conflict with both countries if they hindered Addis Ababa’s access to the Red Sea Port through their territories.

The controversial January 1 agreement between Ethiopia and Somaliland, facilitating landlocked Ethiopia’s access to the Red Sea through the Gulf of Aden in Somaliland, has sparked global concern and drawn criticism from Somalia’s central government.

Mogadishu condemned the memorandum of understanding as an “act of aggression” and a violation of its sovereignty.

President Mohamud’s visit to Asmara was publicised by his office and the Eritrean information ministry in separate posts, showcasing his warm reception by Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki.

In the wake of escalating tensions between Ethiopia and Somalia, the African Union has called for mutual respect and appealed for calm.

Last week, the United States rejected international recognition for the separatist region, insisting on the need for talks to address the crisis.

“The United States recognises the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Somalia within its 1960 borders. We join other partners in expressing our serious concern about the resulting spike in tensions in the Horn of Africa,” said State Department spokesman Matthew Miller.