By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
November 6, 2012 (ADDIS ABABA) – Ethiopia and Qatar have officially resumed their diplomatic and economic ties, after they were severed for for more than four years.
Ethiopian Prime Minister, Hailemariam Dessalegn, on Monday held bilateral talks with his Qatari counterpart, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabor al-Thani in Addis Ababa where the two sides agreed to recommence all-round ties and inked a number of accords of mutual interest.
Ethiopia cut diplomatic ties with Qatar in 2008, accusing the Gulf Arab state of playing a negative role in the East African region by backing anti-peace elements including Ethiopian opposition forces based in neighbouring Eritrea, which fought a bitter border war from 1998 to 2000 with Ethiopia.
The high-level discussions marks a full restoration of diplomatic relations and an opening to a potential new era of cooperation between the two countries.
Following the discussions, the two sides signed a series of bilateral cooperation agreements mainly in the fields of investment, trade and finance. Other agreements were signed on labour, civil aviation, private sector cooperation, agricultural and food security.
The Ethiopian premier said agreement was reach in economic cooperation in terms of investment, including joint investment opportunities in Ethiopia.
“We have also agreed Qatari investors can come into Ethiopia where here is huge investment opportunity” he added.
The Qatari Prime Minister, who also serves as the country’s Foreign Minister, commended Ethiopia’s development as “exemplary to its neighbours”. He pledged that Qatar would extend financial and economic support to Ethiopia to build a strong mutually beneficial partnership.
The accords, signed on Monday, were draft agreements negotiated between Ethiopian officials and a advanced team from Qatar, led by Deputy Minister of Finance and Economy Khalaf Ahmed Al Menaa, which visied Ethiopia last month.
PEACE AND STABILITY
The Ethiopian and Qatari prime ministers vowed to work closely to promote peace, stability and security in the volatile Horn of Africa region. Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabor said security was a priority for ensuring sustainable development in the region.
“We believe peace brings development, and these countries in this part of the world need a lot of development,” he said.
Ethiopia and Qatar are expected to open their embassies in respective capitals imminently.
There were rumours that the Qatari premier would offer his Ethiopian counterpart a peace initiative to mediate Ethiopia and Eritrea over their long-standing border row, however there has been no official statement on the proposal.
Ethiopian Foreign affairs spokesperson, Dina Mufti, was unavailable today for comments on the matter.