Ethiopia and Qatar have resumed diplomatic and economic ties, the prime ministers of both countries said Monday, ending a four-year row over claims that the Gulf state was backing armed opposition groups in the Horn of Africa.
“We are in a time where we can flourish and strengthen our relationship and our relationship is based on mutual trust as well as a good heart,” Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn told reporters after meeting his Qatari counterpart in Addis Ababa.
“Now we want to continue with this relationship for the future,” he added.
The two countries fell out in 2008, when Ethiopia’s late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi accused the Gulf Arab state of destabilizing the Horn of Africa by supporting armed opposition groups in the region, including in Ethiopia’s arch-foe Eritrea.
Hailemariam said the two countries would work together to boost economic ties, including allowing Qatari investors into Ethiopia, and would “work very closely” with Qatar to promote peace and security in the region.
Qatar Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani said security was a priority for development in the Horn of Africa.
“We believe peace brings development, and these countries in this part of the world need a lot of development,” he said, adding that the high-level meeting between both countries was agreed when he met with Meles in February.
The Ministers of Finance and Foreign Affairs from both countries signed a series of bilateral agreements after the two leaders met.
Ethiopia’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Dina Mufti said ties had been rekindled between the countries because they felt “we would have mutual benefit if we restore out relations”.
“We have sorted out our differences ...It’s water under the bridge, it is something that we have sorted out, we are looking forward now,” he told AFP.
Eritrea broke away from Ethiopia and won independence in 1993 after a 30-year struggle. The two countries fought a border war in 1998-2000, which left at least 70,000 people dead.
With an official growth rate of 11 percent, Ethiopia has one of the fastest growing economies in Africa and is luring foreign investors to boost its economy further, with the aim of achieving middle income status by 2025.