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Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia work towards regional integration

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- The leaders of Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia have pledged to work towards the integration of the Horn of Africa region, according to a joint statement released by the three leaders on Saturday.

In a press statement, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki and Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, said they would work towards the historic transformation of the Horn of Africa region towards peace and integration.

The three leaders issued the joint statement at the end of a two-day meeting they had in the northern Ethiopia city of Bahir Dar, the second meeting the trio had in two months.

“The three leaders reviewed developments and achievements since the signing of Asmara joint declaration on friendship and comprehensive cooperation in September and noted with satisfaction the tangible and positive outcomes already registered and agreed to consolidate their mutual solidarity and support in addressing challenges that they face individually and collectively,” said the statement.

“The three leaders also welcomed the impending lifting of all sanctions against Eritrea and underscored their conviction the lifting of the sanctions would reaffirm their commitment to an inclusive regional peace and cooperation,” it further said.

Eritrea has been subjected to a UN arms embargo since 2009, after UN experts accused Eritrea of providing political, financial and logistical support to armed groups opposing the central government in Somalia. Eritrea has denied the accusations.

The UN Security Council is expected to meet next week to review the sanctions. Eritrea hopes the sanctions will be lifted. Ethiopia and Somalia have supported the possible lifting of the sanctions on Eritrea.

The meeting of the three leaders comes amidst wide-spread optimism in the Horn of Africa region that it would move from a chronically unstable region to one of political cooperation and economic integration.



Ethiopia military says to re-establish a naval force

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- The Ethiopian military said on Wednesday that it has decided to reestablish a naval force despite the country’s landlocked geographical location.

The East African country disbanded its navy force more than two decades ago following the separation of Eritrea, leaving Ethiopia without access to a major ocean or sea that would host its naval force.

Ethiopia’s Deputy Chief of Staff of the National Defense Force, General Birhanu Jula, told local media that “reestablishing the Ethiopian naval force is very necessary given the country’s status as the region’s largest nation.”

Jula further indicated that building a naval force would help the country’s defense force to establish a better protection.

However, he did not specify where the navy would be based as well as when it would be reassembled.

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed revealed the country’s naval ambitions in June, but his plan for how to achieve the goal has not been made public.

Ethiopia had a navy up to the early 1990s, when the independence of Eritrea left Ethiopia landlocked and prompted the Ethiopian government to disband the navy.

The Horn of African country uses a port in its neighboring country Djibouti for its import and export demands. The Djibouti Port currently handles about 95 percent of landlocked Ethiopia’s export-import trade.

The Ethiopian government, which recently normalized its relations with its long-time foe Eritrea, also hopes to use Eritrean ports for the country’s growing import-export needs.

During his recent visit to Eritrea in September, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Ahmed visited Eritrea’s Assab and Metswa ports. Infrastructure projects are also underway to re-connect the two neighbors.


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