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A First: Qatari Prime Minister Visits Ethiopia

- The Qatari Prime Minister: “Ethiopia is important to us and we seek to enhance cooperation with it.”
- Qatar Affirms its support for the Syrian people
- The Ethiopian Prime Minister hails Qatar’s efforts to promote peace in the region

Addis Ababa (AlSharq) Nov. 5, 2012, Report by Mohammed Taha Tewekel

On Sunday evening, Sheikh Hamad Al Thani, the Qatari Prime Minister arrived in Addis Ababa heading a high level delegation, which included Dr. Khalid bin Mohamed Al-Attiya, State Minister at the Foreign Ministry.

The Qatari prime minister and his delegation was received at Ethiopia’s Bole International Airport by Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, a number of cabinet ministers and dignitaries, as well as ambassadors of Arab countries accredited to Ethiopia.

The street from Bole to the government headquarters was decorated to welcome the Qatari delegation who was visiting Addis Ababa for the first time. The visit is considered a significant developments in the Ethiopian-Arab Gulf relations in general and Qatar-Ethiopian relations in particular

The Qatari Prime Minister held rounds of talks with his Ethiopian counterpart Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.

On Sunday, the two countries signed several agreements and launched a new phase in the Qatari relations with the countries of the Horn of Africa.

Qatar was a sponsor of the Darfur Peace talks and has been heavily engaged in efforts to help resolve conflicts in the Horn of Africa. In 1998, Qatar mediated between Asmara and Khartoum and held a summit meeting between Al-Bashir and Afwerki in Doha. It has also succeeded in holding a similar summit between Ali Abdullah Saleh, the former Yemeni President and the Eritrean president Isaias Afwerki. In 2008 Qatar mediated between Djibouti and Eritrea and successfully stopped the military confrontation between the two countries.

Qatar, a small Gulf country, has become quite influential in world affairs, particularly on issues concerning the Middle East where it has played an important role in the Arab Spring and supported the revolution in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya. Currently, Qatar is openly facing the Syrian regime by vigorously supporting the Syrian opposition. In Addis Ababa, which is considered the capital city of Africa, the Qatari prime minister renewed his appeal to the world to support the Syrian people.

The Prime Ministers of Ethiopia and Qatar signed several agreement dealing with bilateral cooperation in the fields of  diplomacy, trade, and investment. The two countries also agreed to establish a joint high-level ministerial committee.

The Qatari prime minister and the late Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi had previously signed a joint cooperation agreement on bilateral relations between the two countries.

After the conclusion of the signing ceremony, the two Prime Ministers and their delegation held a one-hour press conference, which was co-ordinated by Ambassador Dina Mufti, the spokesperson for the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry. Al Sharq was given the first opportunity to ask.

In response to AlSharq’s question regarding the results of the talks and the future of relations between the two countries, Sheikh Hamad said that the visit was a result of his meeting in February with Meles Zenawi, the late prime minister of Ethiopia, in London. He said that Ethiopia is an important country for Qatar and that Qatar seeks to promote cooperation and economic ties with it in many areas, and that Ethiopia has long experience. He also said that Qatar promotes international peace and security and strongly believes that peace is only possible through development. He also stated that Qatar considers Ethiopia a model state in the field of development. Sheik Hamad also stressed Qatar”s interest in the Horn of Africa region which he said has special relationship and history with the Arabs, and that Qatar strives to achieve a lasting peace in the region with the help of the excellent relationship that Qatar enjoys with the regional countries.

Answering a question regarding the meetings of the Syrian opposition in Doha, Sheikh Hamad confirmed his country’s support for the Syrian people and said that Qatar is helping in uniting the Syrian opposition forces and that his country will support the Syrian people who are being exposed to attacks by the Syrian regime, and called on the international community to support the Syrian people emphasizing his confidence that the Syrian people will accomplish their aspirations.

On his part, the Ethiopian Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalgn praised the growing ties of his country with Qatar and expressed appreciation for the role of Qatar, and said that what has been achieved is a qualitative leap in bilateral relations. He also said that the formation of a higher ministerial committee will push the cooperation to the highest level. Prime minister Hailemariam said that his country offers wide investment opportunities while Qatar has resources and a great experience and he mentioned future cooperation between the two countries in the economic, labor, tourism and agriculture and other fields.

Translated from Arabic and Edited by Gedab News

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