Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Prince Saud Al-Faisal, has said relations between Ethiopia and Saudi Arabia are at an excellent level.  In a press statement released by the Saudi’s Foreign Ministry on Monday, March 4th, the Foreign Minister "confirmed the deep-rooted and long standing relations between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Republic of Ethiopia".

He said that “the first Hijra (migration) in Islam was to Abyssinia, and the ties between the people of the two countries have had a long standing and prestigious history", adding that there was a growing “development of relations with Abyssinia, which culminated right now to reach an excellent level of cooperation in various fields", including the significant widening of trade between the two countries and growing investment relations.

Prince Saud Al-Faisal also noted that Saudi Arabia and the Republic of Ethiopia were working closely to calm the situation in the Horn of Africa, and the two countries recently signed an agreement to cooperate on a whole range of issues.

His statement followed comments by the Kingdom’s Deputy Minister of Defense at a meeting in Cairo that Ethiopia’s Renaissance Dam had the potential to affect downstream countries adversely.

This led the Government to ask for an explanation from the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Addis Ababa. The Ambassador expressed his belief that the comments of the Deputy Minister did not reflect the views of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Last week, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Finance, Dr. Ibrahim bin Abdulaziz Al-Assaf, visited Addis Ababa for talks with Prime Minister Hailemariam and Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Ato Sufian Ahmed, and signed an agreement on double taxation. The discussions with the Prime Minister focused on ways to further enhance existing people-to-people relations and the importance of strengthening the activities of investors from Saudi Arabia, particularly in agricultural developments. Dr. Al-Assaf said that the Saudi Arabian government was keen to work closely with Ethiopia to further enhance existing relations in trade and investment.

On Thursday, Dr. Al-Assaf and the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Sufian Ahmed signed two agreements were signed with the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA) and the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD, for a total of US$25 million to provide support for the implementation of the Gode-Kabridahar Rural Electrification Project, co-financed by the two development partners, to supply electric power supply to rural areas in the Somali Regional State.


* Originally published on A Week in the Horn – March 8, 2013 issue, titled “Saudi Arabia says relations with Ethiopia excellent”. Items from A Week in the Horn are re-published here with a permission to do so.

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