By Addis Getachew
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AA) - The leaders of Ethiopia and Somalia on Wednesday signaled the neighbors will lay greater focus on economic ties in the coming future.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed welcomed Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mahmoud on a two-day working visit to the capital Addis Ababa, his first trip to Ethiopia since taking office this May.
For the past few decades, Ethiopia has been at the forefront of regional support for Somalia’s fight against al-Shabaab, a terror group affiliated with al-Qaeda.
While Ethiopia retains a key role in the African Union Mission in Somalia that is engaged in operations against al-Shabaab, Abiy told Mahmoud that Addis Ababa wants to pursue economic cooperation with Mogadishu.
He affirmed Ethiopia’s readiness to work at various levels with the new Somali government “with particular emphasis on economic growth,” according to a statement from Abiy’s office.
“He further reiterated that Ethiopia desires a stronger and stable Somalia which is useful for Ethiopia,” the statement said.
Mohamud expressed appreciation for the “sacrifices” Ethiopia has made for “a better Somalia, and highlighted the importance of collaboration to address common challenges faced by the two countries,” it added.
Mahmoud’s visit also comes as fighting continues in northern Ethiopia between government forces and Tigray rebels.
A months-long truce was shattered in late August, extending a conflict that has already killed thousands and displaced millions of others.
The international community, including Türkiye and the US, has reiterated the need for a permanent end to the conflict that has raged in northern Ethiopia since November 2020.
Hopes for peace talks between the Tigray People’s Liberation Front and Abiy’s government were handed a welcome boost earlier this month after the rebels said they were willing to halt fighting and take part in a dialogue led by the African Union, but there has been no progress on the matter.
A report released by UN rights experts last week accused both sides of committing abuses that border on war crimes and crimes against humanity.