The regime of Emperor Minelik saw an increased flurry of diplomatic activities with Ethiopia reaching out to more capitals in Europe than ever before. The onset of the so-called scramble for Africa increased the necessity for more intense diplomatic activities by Ethiopia as it had to grapple with the colonial ambitions of various European nations, notably, Britain, France and Italy. After the humiliating defeat of the Egyptians in Sudan and their subsequent withdrawal from the coastal areas of what is now Eritrea, the Italians proceeded to take over Massawa and immediately began their advance inland. Emperor Minelik came to power in 1889 and immediately faced a formidable challenge from Italy which had already managed to take over most of the territory north of the Merab River. Notable among the diplomatic developments involving Emperor Minelik was the treaty of Wuchale signed with Italy in May 1889 shortly after Yohannis' death. Neither party seems to have realized that its interpretation would become a major problem though certainly the Italian envoy, Count Antonelli, was aware that the Amharic text gave Minelik the option of using Italy's good offices for contacts with other counties while the Italian text obligated him to make all such contacts through Italy. Differences over the interpretation of the treaty, which Minelik abrogated in 1893 ultimately led to the Battle of Adowa in 1896 when an Italian invading force was wiped out.

Ethiopia's resounding victory at the battle of Adowa went a long way to further cement Ethiopia's position as the only independent nation in the entire African continent. It rapidly led to treaties with Italy, France and Britain regularizing Ethiopia's relations with these three colonial powers. It also led to a significant increase in the nation's diplomatic relations with the rest of the world. A number of diplomatic missions from all parts of the world arrived in Ethiopia and formal diplomatic relations were established with Italy, Germany, the UK, France and Russia as well as more than a dozen other European countries. In 1903, following a nine day mission headed by Robert Skinner, the American Consul-General in Marseilles, a Treaty to Regulate Commercial Relations between the US and Ethiopia was signed.

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