External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar held wide-ranging discussions with Ethiopian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Demeke Mekonnen

India and Ethiopia have agreed to expand their bilateral agenda, particularly in the area of defence, economy, and science & technology.

The issue was discussed during wide-ranging discussions between External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Ethiopian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Demeke Mekonnen on Friday. They exchanged views on bilateral, regional and global issues.

“Welcomed DPM&FM @DemekeHasen of Ethiopia. Useful and productive discussions on a range of bilateral and regional issues. Agreed to expand bilateral agenda esp defence, economic, S&T, digital & cultural cooperation. Appreciated his detailed briefing on the current situation in the region,” Jaishankar said on Twitter after the meeting.

Following the meeting with Jaishankar, Demeke tweeted, “Had a fruitful discussion with Dr S Jaishankar on scaling up bilateral relations to a Strategic Partnership level and cooperation in multilateral forums. We also inked essential agreements to further cement India and Ethiopia relations”.

During the visit, Ethiopia and India signed an Agreement on Mutual Visa Exemption for holders of Diplomatic Passports and a MoU between the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research–Central Leather Research Institute, India and Wollo University, Ethiopia.

The Ethiopian Minister’s four-day visit was his first to Asia after becoming the Foreign Minister last November, the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement.

On Thursday, the two Ministers jointly inaugurated the newly-constructed Chancery building and Embassy residence of the Embassy of Ethiopia in New Delhi.

“A pleasure to join Ethiopian DPM & FM @DemekeHasen at the inauguration of their new Chancery complex on Shantipath – our main diplomatic avenue. A clear testament to the priority accorded to Ethiopia in India’s foreign policy,” Jaishankar posted on Twitter.

The Ethiopian Deputy PM and Foreign Minister said he was “grateful for immense contributions of the Indian External Affairs Offcies to the construction of the building in a manner that showed time-tested and cordial relations”.

Addressing the gathering, External Affairs Minister Jaishankar spoke of the historic ties between India and Ethiopia and the fillip that these had received with the exchange of high-level visits over the last few years.

In his remarks, he also touched upon the flourishing bilateral trade and investment ties and the growing people to people contacts, the statement said.

On Wednesday, ASSOCHAM, in association with the Embassy of Ethiopia, organized the India-Ethiopia Business Forum where investment opportunities in Ethiopia were highlighted by the Ethiopian side and by Indian investors.

Minister of State for External Affairs V. Muraleedharan in his address invited the business communities to take advantage of the trade and investment opportunities on offer and expressed his satisfaction at the role played by Indian educators in Ethiopia.

Muraleedharan expressed happiness that over 607 Indian companies had a presence in Ethiopia with a total investment of nearly US$ 5 billion. He said Indian businessmen have continued to explore investment opportunities in Ethiopia despite the Covid-19 pandemic. During the last one year, there have been 35 new Indian investments in Ethiopia, he pointed out.

The Minister of State for External Affairs commended the Ethiopian Government’s effort in creating a congenial environment for foreign investments and, in particular, for facilitating Indian companies to invest in Ethiopia and carry on their business. He also congratulated the Indian Business Forum, Ethiopia for facilitating Indian investors in the African nation.

Noting the development partnership between the two countries, Muraleedharan informed that Ethiopia continues to be one of the largest recipients of India’s concessional loans or Lines of Credit (LoC) in Africa.

“Our Lines of Credit are based on the priorities of our partner countries and also aim to share our expertise as well as the lessons of our own experiences in developing our infrastructure and our educational institutions and so on with our friends,” the Minister stated.

Muraleedharan also highlighted the development partnership that covers sectors such as rural electrification and the sugar industry and consists of a total of 6 Lines of Credit amounting to US$ 705 million extended to Ethiopia.

The Ethiopian Deputy Prime Minister, in his address, informed that their government was working on new measures to improve the business environment in Ethiopia.