ADDIS ABEBA – Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (Ph.D.) has held a discussion with South Korean President Moon Jae-In as he embarks on his two-day official visit to Seoul on Monday.
The prime minister commenced his official state visit on Monday by laying a wreath at the Seoul National Cemetery reserved for Korean veterans, according to his office.
Ethiopia is the sole African country that dispatched ground troops to help it fight during the 1950-53 Korean War. It sent 3,518 service members. Among them, 122 were killed and 536 were wounded.
He and his delegation also met president Moon later that day, during which Seoul and Addis Abeba agreed to launch a joint committee, led by their top diplomats, for deepening bilateral partnerships.
The top leaders of the two countries oversaw the signing of several memoranda of understandings (MoUs).
These include a visa waiver, establishment of a joint ministerial commission, environmental protection, and science and technology cooperation.
The visa waiver aims to allow diplomatic passports holders of both countries to enjoy visa-free privilege between the two states.
The foreign ministers of the two sides, on the other hand, signed the agreement that will launch the ministerial commission.
The committee will hold a session every two years with a focus on discussing how to strengthen cooperation in various fields, including politics, business, consular affairs, culture, technology, education and science.
On the same day, the Prime Minister met with the President of the EXIM Bank of the Republic of Korea.
The discussion was centered on the ongoing and potential new support to Ethiopia by the bank.
The EXIM Bank’s support for currently ongoing projects exceeds $600 million while recent support of $300 million has been signed under the Korea-Ethiopia Economic Development Cooperation Fund for the 2019-2020 periods.
The East African nation is South Korea’s largest African partner in development cooperation.
Abiy Ahmed also visited the Korea Institute for Science and Technology (KIST) together with his delegation.
The delegation has been briefed on the contribution of science and technology in building Korea’s strong economy, according to the PM office.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed expressed interest in collaborating to set up an institute like KIST in Ethiopia, it added.
Under another MOU signed the same day, reports from Seoul say South Korea will provide the African nation with US$86 million in project loans for the construction of research centers at Adama Science and Technology University.
KIST currently cooperates with the Ministry of Science and Education as well as Adama Science & Technology University.
Abiy arrived in Seoul on Sunday, along with his wife, for his first trip to South Korea since June 2013 as a member of a parliamentary delegation.
He became the first Ethiopian leader to travel to South Korea in eight years. He served as head of the friendly association of South Korean and Ethiopian lawmakers from February 2012 till April 2018.
On Tuesday, he is expected to hold a meeting with the Korean businesses and will leave Seoul later today, for Tokyo to embark on his visit to Japan.