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Ethiopia and Djibouti agreed to diversify and widen their scope of cooperation when President Ismael Omar Guelleh paid a three day official visit to Ethiopia.

Upon his arrival on Thursday the President addressed the joint Houses of Peoples Representatives and Federation. He started his address by expressing his condolences and heartfelt sympathy to the government and people of Ethiopia, who lost their loved ones in the tragic landslide at Koshe.

In his joint keynote address, President Guelleh highlighted the excellent bilateral relations and the bright future ahead.

He said that his presence here is in many ways a symbol of the longstanding relations of the countries.

“I have a firm belief that we cannot ensure sustainable growth to tackle our regional and national challenges without peace and security”, the president pointed out.

Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn and President Guelleh have also expressed their commitment to diversify and widen the scope of cooperation between the two nations and people to fit into their vision, taking a range of measures at the national level including policy harmonization, and reducing red tape as much as possible.

Ethiopia and Djibouti have a common ethnicity along their border and they have strong political and economic relations. For the past two decades Djibouti has become key player in Ethiopia’s import and export industry. Since then the country’s economy has grown rapidly and it has undertaken major infrastructure projects that should greatly improve logistics and help meet Ethiopia’s rapidly growing demand for goods.

In the joint communiqué issued at the end of the official visit of the president the two leaders expressed their desire and commitment to raise relations to even greater heights through the signing of agreement on extradition, mutual legal assistance in criminal matters and a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in the field of justice and legal training, and by ensuring agreements are implemented.

The joint communiqué acknowledged that free movement of people and goods is a pre requisite for expanding economic integration between the two countries. The operation of the railway is considered crucial in this regard.

The two leaders reaffirmed the decision to hold the High Level Joint Commission biennially and the Joint Ministerial Commission meetings, led by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, on a quarterly basis in their respective capitals. The two leaders also agreed to continue to hold the annual Joint Border Administrators/Commissioners commission meeting to strengthen the existing cooperation on issues of security, trade, development and infrastructure interconnections along their common border.

Regional issues were also on the agenda.

On his final day of the official visit President Guelleh attended the cornerstone ceremony held yesterday in the future compound of Djibouti Embassy and Ambassador’s residence that will be built around Bole Medhanialem behind Kenenisa Hotel.