Foreign Affairs Ministry addresses US visit, contraband, GERD, port

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By Tesfaye Getnet
The firing of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson just days after his visit to Ethiopia doesn’t lessen the value of the recent meeting, Meles Alem, spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said during a press conference in which he went over many pressing topics.
“Rex Tillerson, did not come to Ethiopia for personal business, he was representing the US. The discussions were about strengthening the political and economic ties between the US and Ethiopia. People come and go but the relationship between Ethiopia and the US will continue as it has for more than a century,” he said.
Contraband trade and illegal migration were something he wanted to emphasize as he lauded the 28th Ethiopia Djibouti Joint border commission held in Semra, Afar last week which passed many agreements to address these two challenges.
“The two countries are connected by road and railway at a cost of over USD 15 billion. This has increased business and made traveling easer but there is a challenge in controlling illegal trade along the border and preventing migrants from crossing to the Middle East which is unsafe so the agreement will help alleviate these problems,” he said.
He went over a new plan by Ethiopia to use a port in addition to Djibouti.
“We are working on using Berbera Port in a way that respects the legal process and we will search for another port that will not affect our access to the Djibouti port. Djibouti will be our main port for our imports like in the past.’’
Recently the Dubai based logistics giant DP World and the government of Ethiopia officially disclosed Ethiopia’s 19 percent stake buyout of the Berbera Port, when the government of Somaliland and DP World concluded a management deal last year.
The Dubai Company operating a port in Djibouti, agreed with Somaliland to manage the operation of Berbera Port, one of the oldest ports in the region.
Regarding the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam the spokesperson said a meeting will be held in Khartoum in three weeks with the technical committee.
“The meeting was supposed to be held in February but it was postponed until next month. At that time we will present the documents to the leaders of Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt about the flowing and filling of the dam…there is no negotiation with Egypt over the dam, only a discussion, we can’t negotiate about the dam because 65 million people are out of electricity and we need to develop our country.”