Ethiopia, Italy sign cooperation agreement

By Abebech Tamene

ADDIS ABABA (AA) – Ethiopian Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom on Wednesday met with Italian counterpart Paolo Gentiloni in Addis Ababa, where they signed an agreement for cultural cooperation.

The agreement, which will remain in effect from 2015 to 2019, covers cooperation in the fields of art and culture and calls for the exchange of architectural expertise.

Gentiloni arrived in Addis Ababa earlier Wednesday for a one-day visit.

His talks with Adhanom focused on a host of bilateral issues, including trade and investment.  

"The new agreement will further strengthen the already solid bonds [between the two countries] in the culture field," Ethiopia's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

"The Italian foreign minister's visit indicates strong relations between the two countries," Adhanom said. "We believe our relations will be strengthened on a regular basis."

He added that trade and investment ties between Ethiopia and Italy were improving, describing progress in this regard as "very good."

Adhanom added that he had also discussed regional issues with his Italian counterpart.

He said Italy, as co-president of the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD)'s Partners' Forum, had made significant efforts to promote peace in Somalia and South Sudan.

Gentiloni, for his part, said his visit was aimed at further strengthening bilateral relations.

He said Italian firms had carried out infrastructure projects in Ethiopia worth a total of 100 million Euros between 2013 and 2015.

"I'm visiting Ethiopia because Italy attaches great importance to its relations with your country," Gentiloni asserted.

Ethiopia "is crucial to eastern Africa and the continent," he added, describing the country as a "large" one that enjoyed stable governance.

He also said Ethiopia played an important role in the fight against terrorism, which he described as a "common risk and challenge" for both countries.

Gentiloni added that both Ethiopia and Italy were working together to curb human trafficking, smuggling and illegal migration.

"Italy, a member of the EU's steering committee, is working hard to solve these problems," he said.

Gentiloni is also scheduled to meet officials from the African Union Commission, including commission chief Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

It is Gentiloni's first visit to Ethiopia, with which Italy has had diplomatic relations since 1889.

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