Statement by FM Silvan Shalom after meeting with Ethiopian Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin

Addis Ababa, January 7, 2004

On behalf of myself and my delegation, I would like to extend my gratitude to the Government and people of Ethiopia for the profoundly warm and friendly welcome we have received. It is both a pleasure and privilege to be here, visiting Ethiopia, on my first visit to Africa as Foreign Minister.

I would also like to wish a Merry Christmas to the Ethiopian Christian Orthodox community.

Minister Mesfin and I have just concluded a very open and constructive meeting, the third in a series that we have held over the past several months. We discussed improving our already solid bilateral relations and the peace process in the Middle East.

I attach great importance to the advancement and promotion of Israel’s relationship with Ethiopia in the political and diplomatic arenas, the economic sphere, and in scientific and cultural affairs.

Most recently, we have witnessed a significant upturn in economic bilateral activity. During Minister Mesfin’s last visit to Israel, we signed two important agreements-addressing research and development and the promotion of investment security.

We both agreed to encourage this positive trend. For this reason, my delegation includes more than 20 leaders from the Israeli corporate community who will participate in a unique seminar this morning with their Ethiopian counterparts to initiate business to business opportunities.

We are very proud of Israel’s technical assistance to Ethiopia. We are eager to share our experience as a developing country in navigating our own economy to enable self-sufficiency, and goals that extend beyond.

I am pleased to announce that Israel is donating medical resuscitation equipment to the Black Lion Hospital here in Addis Ababa. The package will be put to use for trauma and emergency patients. This kind of cooperation in the science and technology realm serves to benefit both of our peoples in a very real and tangible manner.

Israel and Ethiopia also share regional, strategic interests. Today, both of our countries stand together on the front lines of the battle against terrorism which threatens every peace-loving nation. We salute Ethiopia’s firm stand in confronting terrorism, a challenge that has unfortunately become part of our reality.

Israel faces a very difficult situation in the Middle East today. During our meeting, I reaffirmed Israel’s commitment to reaching a peace agreement with our Palestinian neighbors and implementing the performance-based Road Map.

The people of Israel are a people of peace and we will continue to work tirelessly to build a better future for the region. Yet, progress can only be made when the Palestinian leadership adopts the moral and strategic decision to dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism and to end incitement to violence.

I would like to reiterate my country’s genuine desire to build a close relationship with Ethiopia. I look forward to working together with Minister Mesfin to ensure that our ties will continue to develop and flourish for the benefit of both of our peoples.

Thank you.