Aryeh Neier attributes ''warming'' relations between the United States and Ethiopia to my government's position on the crisis in the Persian Gulf, with a suggestion that relations are a quid pro quo: Ethiopia's support in exchange for the United States averting its eyes to human rights abuses {"The Quiet Eclipse of Human Rights," Outlook, Dec. 30}. But the simple truth is Ethiopia has always condemned aggression of one country against another.

When Ethiopia was invaded in 1936, it warned the League of Nations that failure to act against the aggressor would have tragic consequences. The league failed to heed the warning, and World War II ensued. Now, more than 50 years later, Ethiopia has reaffirmed its long-standing position by publicly and unequivocally condemning Iraq's aggression against Kuwait.

As for Ethiopian-U.S. relations, both governments have been working on the removal of obstacles. Ethiopia's commitment to internal reconciliation, its efforts in seeking a negotiated settlement of the 30-year-old civil war, the introduction of wide-ranging economic and political reforms and progress made in the area of Ethiopian Jewish family reunification have removed some of the perceived ''stumbling blocks.''

In light of these developments, as well as the opening of the port of Massawa, it is inappropriate to suggest that Ethiopia's tactics in Asmara bear a resemblance to Hussein's use of ''human shields.'' Ethiopian citizens have been moving freely in and out of Asmara, and internationally supported airlifts of food from Assab and Addis Ababa to Asmara have been continuing. It is the Eritrean People's Liberation Front that has been hindering food delivery and shelling innocent civilians.

For Human Rights Watch to seemingly advocate that the United States adopt a policy of no communications with the Ethiopian government at the moment when positive developments are in place, with promises for overcoming the problems of the region, is cynical, self-serving and irresponsible. GIRMA AMARE Counselor and Charge d'Affaires Embassy of Ethiopia Washington