Donald Trump puzzled Ethiopian officials on Thursday, when, at a campaign rally, he appeared to say that he deserved the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to that country’s prime minister, Abiy Ahmed Ali, in December. Abiy was given the high honor for his achievement in negotiating a peace deal with neighboring East African country Eritrea, according to The Washington Post.
Eritrea seceded from Ethiopia in 1993, and the two countries had been locked in a military standoff ever since — until the new peace agreement. From 1998 to 2000, the hostilities erupted into an all-out shooting war that killed an estimated 100,000 people, according to The Washington Post.
But Trump was reportedly not involved in the negotiations in any way, despite the claim he made at Thursday’s rally in Toledo, Ohio.
“I made a deal, I saved a country, and I just heard that the head of that country is now getting the Nobel Peace Prize for saving the country,” Trump told a crowd of about 8,000 of his supporters, according to the Post account. “I said, ‘What, did I have something do with it?’ Yeah. But that’s the way it is.”
Trump has frequently been open about his desire to receive a Nobel Peace Prize after former President Barack Obama received the prestigious honor in 2009, less than one year into his first term. At a United Nations meeting last September, the president declared that he deserved the honor for “many things,” as quoted by USA Today.
But Trump said at the U.N. that he believed he would have already received the prize, “if they gave it out fairly, which they don’t.” He also complained that Obama, in his view, did not deserve the Nobel that he was awarded.
The previous May, the president also declared that “everyone thinks” he should receive a Nobel Peace Prize, adding that he himself “would never say it,” according to USA Today.
In 2018, a former CIA official said that North Korea dictator Kim Jong Un only needed to know that Trump feels “desperation to match former President Barack Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize” in order to take advantage of him in nuclear negotiations.
Since taking office in 2018, Ethiopia’s Abiy has instituted sweeping democratic reforms in that country, according to a BBC report. Those reforms may have also played a role in his receiving the Nobel Peace Prize. However, Trump was reportedly not involved in Abiy’s initiatives, or in Ethiopia’s domestic politics at all.
Though it’s been said that Trump had absolutely nothing to do with the Ethiopia-Eritrea peace deal, the United States has assisted in delicate negotiations between Ethiopia and Egypt over a dam that the Ethiopians plan to build on the Nile river. In a tweet, quoted by The Washington Post, the House Foreign Affairs Committee said that the president was “confused,” and must have mistaken the dam negotiations with the peace deal, despite how the two are not connected.