Parties in Ethiopia's Tigray region war reach truce

STORY: In a dramatic diplomatic breakthrough on Wednesday the Ethiopian government and Tigrayan forces agreed to a surprise deal; putting a halt to a 2 year war that has killed thousands, displaced millions and left hundreds of thousands facing famine.

Delegates from both sides signed an agreement in South Africa, just over a week after formal peace talks began.

“The two parties in the Ethiopian conflict have formally agreed to the cessation of hostilities as well as to systematic, orderly, smooth and coordinated disarmament.”

Olusegun Obasanjo from the African Union Mediation team praised the process as an African solution to an African problem.

“This moment is not the end of peace process but the beginning of it."

An agreement had not been expected so soon.

The United Nations called it a step in the right direction.

"This is very much a welcome first step, which we hope can start to bring some solace to the millions of Ethiopian civilians that have really suffered during this conflict."

In Washington, U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters it will continue to engage to advance the peace agreement.

"What we will have to see is follow through. And the United States will be there. We will be there to continue working with the African Union. They will continue to lead this process."

The war stems from a breakdown in relations between regional power blocs over control of Ethiopia as a whole.

The agreement does not address the deeper political tensions that contributed to the conflict.

Eritrea and other forces from inside Ethiopia -- who have taken part in the conflict on Ethiopia's side -- did not take part in the talks.