U.S. Relations With Eritrea

Bureau of African Affairs
Fact Sheet
October 11, 2018


More information about Eritrea is available on the Eritrea Page and from other Department of State publications and other sources listed at the end of this fact sheet.

U.S.-ERITREA RELATIONS

The United States established diplomatic relations with Eritrea in 1993, following its independence and separation from Ethiopia. The United States supported Eritrea's independence, but tensions related to the ongoing government detention of political dissidents and others, the closure of the independent press, limits on civil liberties, and reports of human rights abuses contributed to decades of strained U.S.-Eritrean relations. Through a concerted, mutual effort that began in late 2017 and continues today, there are steady improvements to the bilateral relationship. Rapprochement between Eritrea and Ethiopia in July 2018 and Eritrea’s outreach to its regional neighbors bolstered prospects for regional peace and stability and improved conditions for better relations with the United States and other international partners.

President Isaias Afewerki, who led the country’s struggle for independence and who heads the sole political party, has ruled the country since 1991. National elections have not taken place since 1991 and the constitution has not been implemented. Regionally, Eritrea has been party to border disputes with Ethiopia in 1998 and Djibouti in 2008, though in 2018 Ethiopia and Eritrea formally made peace. In 2009, a UN Security Council arms embargo prohibited the sale of arms to or by Eritrea.

U.S. interests in Eritrea include supporting efforts for greater integration of Eritrea with the rest of the Horn of Africa, encouraging Eritrea to contribute to regional stability and partner on shared peace and security goals, urging progress toward a democratic political culture, addressing human rights issues, and promoting economic reform and prosperity.

U.S. Assistance to Eritrea

At the Eritrean Government's request, the United States does not provide bilateral assistance to Eritrea. The United States has no military-to-military cooperation with Eritrea.

Bilateral Economic Relations

The Eritrean Government and ruling party control the economy, and after making peace with Ethiopia, are placing renewed emphasis on economic development and commercial prosperity. The United States and Eritrea have relatively little bilateral trade. Eritrea is a member of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, which has a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement with the United States.

Eritrea's Membership in International Organizations

Eritrea is a member of the African Union, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), and has observer status in the Arab League. Eritrea was a founding member of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), but suspended its membership in 2007. As of September 2018, Eritrea and IGAD member states were discussing Eritrea’s return to the body.

Eritrea and the United States belong to a number of the same international organizations, including the United Nations, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Bilateral Representation

There currently is no U.S. Ambassador to Eritrea; the U.S. Chargé d'Affaires is Natalie E. Brown. Other principal embassy officials are listed in the Department's Key Officers List.

Eritrea maintains an embassy in the United States at 1708 New Hampshire Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20009 (tel. 202-319-1991), and is represented by a Chargé d’Affaires and not an ambassador to the United States.

More information about Eritrea is available from the Department of State and other sources, some of which are listed here:

Department of State Eritrea Page
Department of State Key Officers List
CIA World Factbook Eritrea Page
U.S. Embassy
History of U.S. Relations With Eritrea
Human Rights Reports
International Religious Freedom Reports
Trafficking in Persons Reports
Narcotics Control Reports
Investment Climate Statements
Office of the U.S. Trade Representative Country Page
U.S. Census Bureau Foreign Trade Statistics
Travel Information