ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — As war raged in northern Ethiopia, and the region barreled toward its worst famine in decades, a senior American envoy flew to the Ethiopian capital last month in the hope of persuading Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to pull his country out of a destructive spiral that many fear is tearing it apart.

Mr. Abiy, though, wanted to go for a drive.

Taking the wheel, the Ethiopian leader took his American guest, the Biden administration’s Horn of Africa envoy, Jeffrey D. Feltman, on an impromptu four-hour tour of Addis Ababa, American officials said. The prime minister drove him past smart new city parks and a refurbished central plaza and even crashed a wedding where the two men posed for photos with the bride and groom.

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