US President starts visit to Ethiopia, African Union

Author : Mircea Birca | Monday, July 27, 2015
Posted in category Africa, Africa News, Eurasia, Eurasia News
Comments Off on US President starts visit to Ethiopia, African Union

US President Barack Obama landed in Ethiopia on Sunday, beginning a two-day stay and becoming the first American leader to visit Africa’s second most populous nation.

Air Force One touched down at Addis Ababa’s international airport after a short flight north from the Kenyan capital Nairobi, and the president was greeted on the tarmac by Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.

The visit will include talks with the Ethiopian government, a key strategic ally but criticised for its record on democracy and human rights. Obama will also become the first US president to address the African Union, the 54-member continental bloc, at its gleaming, Chinese-built headquarters.

He will also hold talks with regional leaders on the civil war in South Sudan.

AU Commission chief Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma hailed what she said will be an “historic visit” and a “concrete step to broaden and deepen the relationship between the AU and the US.”

While Kenya launched one of the biggest security operations ever seen in the capital Nairobi to host Obama from Friday evening to Sunday, the habitual reach of Ethiopia’s powerful security forces meant there was little obvious extra fanfare ahead of his arrival.

Ethiopia, like Kenya, has been on the frontline of the fight against the Somali-led, al-Qaeda affiliated Shabaab. Both nations have troops in Somalia as part of an AU and US-backed force, and are key security partners to Washington.

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