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U.S President Barak Obama met with Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn on Thursday September 25th in New York at the side lines of the United Nations General Assembly to discuss bilateral relations between the two countries. Obama stated that Ethiopia is a leading example for the bright spots and progress that is being seen in Africa as the country is one of the fastest growing economies in the world.
“We have seen enormous progress. It is now not only leading the pack in terms of agricultural production in the region, but will soon be an exporter, potentially not just of agriculture, but also power because of the development that’s been taking place there,” Obama said at the meeting.
He stated that the two countries are strong trading partners and the recent deal between Ethiopian Airlines and Boeing involving 20 aircrafts worth USD 2.1 billion, has created jobs in the United States. He also underlined the critical need to improve countries’ effectiveness when it comes to peacekeeping and conflict resolution.
“And it turns out that Ethiopia may be one of the best in the world, one of the largest contributors of peacekeeping; one of the most effective fighting forces when it comes to being placed in some very difficult situations and helping to resolve conflicts,” he said.
He further stated that the US Government is very appreciative of Ethiopia’s efforts when it comes to security and trying to resolve some of the long standing conflicts in its region.
The meeting between the two leaders was expected to enhance strategic dialogue around a whole range of issues including health, the economy, and agriculture, as well as issues in areas like South Sudan, where Ethiopia has been working very hard trying to bring the parties together.
On his part, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said that the United States’ support in various programs has contributed to Ethiopia’s forward movement.
“We value the support the United States has offered to us in terms of engaging the private sector, especially with the initiative of the Power Africa program that is taking shape. I think it’s a remarkable and a modern kind of approach,” Hailemariam said.
Hailemariam also mentioned the Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition initiative which he said was one of the most important initiatives through the public-private partnership.
“We have a number of US investors now engaged in agricultural production, helping the smallholder farmers, which is the basis for our agricultural growth that’s taking place now in Ethiopia,” he said.
He also stated that peace and security are essential for any kind of development to take place and the contribution by the US in that regards has helped the Horn of Africa region.
In conclusion, Obama said that, although most talks regarding terrorism have focused on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), there needs to be focus also on al-Shabaab, an affiliate of al Qaeda, which has wreaked havoc throughout Somalia.
“That’s an area where the cooperation and leadership on the part of Ethiopia is making a difference as we speak. And we want to thank them for that,” he said.
PM Hailemariam is one of the only 3 leaders attending the UNGA in New York that have the opportunity for bilateral talks with President Obama