Eritrean Ambassador Girma Asmerom visited IWP for a lunchtime talk on April 1, encouraging stronger bilateral ties, welcoming the United States to establish a miliitary base on its territory, and stressing that his nation seeks no foreign aid or foreign debt.


Eritrea spans the entire Red Sea coastline once occupied by Ethiopia, stretching from Sudan in the northwest to Djibouti in the southeast, and across the water from Saudi Arabia and Yemen.


About half Muslim and half Christian, the Eritrean population welcomes an American presence in the country, Ambassador Asmerom said. The country’s independence is still threatened by neighboring Ethiopia, which maintains about 400,000 troops on the border, which the much-smaller Eritrea must match man for man. Ethiopia has not committed to recognize the internationally designated demarcation line, and United Nations troops separate both sides along the border to prevent an Ethiopian attack.


Ambassador Asmerom said that Eritrea considers itself an ally of the United States against Islamist terrorism.


The invitation-only event was restricted to IWP faculty, students and benefactors.