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 U.S.-Eritrea relations became strained as a result of ongoing government detention of political dissidents and others, the closure of the independent press, and limits on civil liberties. Eritrea's authoritarian regime is controlled entirely by the president, who heads the sole political party; that party has ruled the country since 1991. National elections have not taken place since then. Regionally, Eritrea has had military confrontations with Ethiopia and Djibouti over border disputes. It has also been cited by the UN for destabilizing activities in the broader Horn of Africa and remains subject to two UN Security Council sanctions resolutions.
U.S. interests in Eritrea include encouraging Eritrea to contribute to regional stability, reconciling ongoing disputes with Ethiopia and Djibouti, urging progress toward a democratic political culture, citing and addressing human rights issues, and promoting economic reform.