U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrived in Addis Ababa on 7 March afternoon.
During his stay in Ethiopia, the Secretary of State met with Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Workneh Gebeyehu on 8 March.
During their meeting, the Premier and Tillerson discussed bilateral and regional issues, as well as agreed to strengthen their cooperation in development, security, peace and counter-terrorism.
As a result of the economic growth registered during the past 15 successive years, Ethiopia has managed to reduce extreme poverty by more than half and achieved most of the MDG goals ahead of schedule, PM Hailemariam said. The temporary security problem implemented in some parts of the country result from increased demands by the society due to the economic growth, he said, adding the solution for the problem is the ongoing comprehensive reform.
The release of prisoners is part of the reform, PM Hailermariam said, urging the United States to support the reform program.
Stating his reasons for tendering resignation, the Premier said he decided to resign as Prime Minister and Chairman of EPRDF to add momentum to the ongoing reform and to be part of a solution. The Premier also briefed Rex Tillerson on the recently declared State of Emergency. The emergency rule aims at restoring peace and security in the country. It will be implemented with great caution, and a team has been set up to follow up its implementation.
Tillerson said PM Hailemariam’s decision to resign as Prime Minister and Chairman of EPRDF could be a model for leaders of other countries.
The same day, Ethiopia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Workneh Gebeyehu met with the U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
In a joint press conference issued after the meeting, Rex Tillerson noted that the United States is a long-time friend and partner of Ethiopia. “Ethiopia and the United States have more than 100 years of diplomatic relations. It has been enduring relationships. We remain friends, and we always work together through challenges,” he said.
As far as the recent incidents in Ethiopia are concerned, Rex Tillerson said “we recognise the transition that is underway in Ethiopia, the first ever voluntary transfer of power. This is a very positive symbol of strengthening of this very young democracy in Ethiopia.”
Regarding the nationwide State of Emergency declared recently, he said, the U.S. government believes that the decree will be short and implemented while respecting human rights.
“We appreciate the government’s responsibility to maintain control and not allow violence to break out and harm innocent people,” Tillerson said.
He further said, “we encourage the Ethiopian people as well to maintain patience, to maintain support for your government to these changes and transition.” “Democracy is not easy. It takes a lot of work. Violence is simply never a solution”.
Tillerson further said the United States wants Ethiopia to succeed because it is crucial for not only the neighbouring countries but also for the US. He also welcomed the release of thousands of prisoners. Tillerson also commended Ethiopia’s generosity in hosting a million of refugees.
Ethiopia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Workneh Gebeyehu, for his part, said that Ethiopia is happy for having more than a century old unwavering partnership with the United States. He thanked the U.S. government for the support it has provided so far for Ethiopia in the areas of democracy and socio-economic development sectors.
The strong cooperation the two countries had in political and security issues should be repeated in trade and economic sectors, he said, further inviting the U.S. investors to invest in Ethiopia and pledging to give the necessary support for them.
The two countries also vowed to strengthen their cooperation until durable peace and security prevail in the region in general, and in South Sudan and Somalia in particular.
Rex Tillerson left Ethiopia on 9 March morning to continue his trip to Chad, Djibouti, Kenya and Nigeria.