Rebels fighting the Ethiopian government have rejected reports that the population of the capital, Addis Ababa, would be hostile to their presence.
The Tigray People's Liberation Front, TPLF, have made advances in recent weeks and is now 400 kilometres away from the capital.
The rebels spokesman denied that entering the city would cause a bloodbath.
"The story that the population in Addis is vehemently opposed to us, it is absolutely overstated.... Addis is the capital of Ethiopia, it’s a melting pot. ..... The claim that Addis will turn into a bloodbath if we enter Addis is absolutely ridiculous..." said Getachew Reda, spokesman for the Tigray People's Liberation Front.
The TPLF is locked in a year-long battle with the government headed by prime-minister Abiy Ahmed.
Another rebel group, OLA, has also joined them in the fight against the government. The objective is to overthrow the prime-minister.
"Yes, we are ready but we cannot negotiate with someone who still wants to maintain a chokehold on our people, who is using hunger and starvation of children as a weapon of war. As long as these conditions we have put forward are met, we are, yes", concluded the TPLF spokesman Getachew Reda.
In November last year, prime-minister Abiy sent the army into the Tigray region to remove the TPLF-led regional authorities, accusing them of attacking military bases.