ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopia and Somalia have agreed to step up cooperation in the fight against terrorism and extremism as well as several other mutual and regional concerns.
During his first official two-day visit to Addis Ababa since taking office last June, Somalia’s President Hassen Sheikh Mohamud held discussions with Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed, accompanied by top officials from both countries.
“They raised and discussed various issues of mutual and regional concerns ranging from collaboration to overcoming threats of terrorism and extremism to bilateral economic cooperation,” says a joint Communique issued today.
PM Abiy and President Mohamud have also reached consensus to work on specific priorities while considering the need to focus on common issues which they said were “paramount to the relationship between the two countries”.
The two leaders paid tribute to the Ethiopian Defense Forces who paid the ultimate sacrifice for peace and stability of Somalia, while applauding the recent successful offensive by the Somalia National Army (SNA) against Al Shabab in Hiraan and Galmudug regions.
The SNA and allied forces have recently intensified military operations into territory formerly controlled by al-Shabab after driving the insurgents out of Mogadishu in 2011.
On Friday, the leaders of Ethiopia and Somalia reiterated their resolve to effectively collaborate in the fight against their common enemy, terrorism and extremism.
Both directed their respective security agencies to strengthen existing mechanisms of cooperation and agreed to exchange intelligence.
The two leaders urged the UN Security Council to consider Somalia’s request for the lifting of the arms embargo imposed on the country for more than 30 years, according to the joint statement.
This, it says, would ensure that Somalia is sufficiently equipped to effectively address the security threat posed by the Al Shabab terrorist groups.
The two leaders also emphasised the need to work together to minimise the effects of undue external interferences that could potentially undermine their joint effort for peace and stability in the region and effectively combat terrorism.
“To this effect, they have agreed to hold regular bilateral consultations and to collaborate in multilateral and regional forums to promote their common national interests on the basis of mutual respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the two countries,” the communique says.
This week’s high level meeting in Addis Ababa also discussed several other issues ranging from the response to the drought affecting their countries to bilateral cooperation in the areas of trade, economy and infrastructure as well as communications.
Directions have been given to respective government offices of the two countries to hold the Joint Ministerial Commission in rotating manner in the soonest possible time.
The commission will discuss and set directions and implementation mechanisms on issues of mutual interest, officials say.
Earlier today, Prime Minister Abiy bids farewell to President Mohamud who concluded his two-day official visit to Ethiopia.
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