ADDIS ABEBA – Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed started a two day visit to Israel on Sunday with a visit to Yad Vashem – Israel’s official memorial to victims of the Holocaust.
Abiy, who is visiting Israeli as prime minister for the first time, is accompanied by foreign minister Gedu Andargachew and minister of Defense Lemma Megerssa and other high-level Ethiopian officials.
Up on arriving in Jerusalem, Abiy went directly to Yad Vashem, his office said in a twitted statement.
“Laying a wreath in the Hall of Remembrance to honor the victims of the Holocaust, PM Abiy shared important lessons must be drawn to counter toxic thinking and actions that led to such a devastating part of history,” reads statement.
Israeli’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu officially welcomed Abiy and his delegation with a guard of honor at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem in the afternoon.
On the same day, Abiy also briefly talked with the mother of Avera Mengistu who is being held in Gaza, and sending words of comfort to the Ethiopian-Israeli youth Solomon Teka, who was killed by an off-duty policeman in an incident in June that sparked massive demonstrations.
Netanyahu invited Agamesh Mengistu, the mother of Avera Mengistu, to be among those in the receiving line when Abiy arrived, and the two spoke briefly.
Abiy, during his opening comments, sent condolences to the families of three Israelis who lost their lives crash in Ethiopia this year, according to the Jerusalem Post.
The three are Shimon Re’em and Avraham Matzliah, who were killed in the crash of an Ethiopian airliner in March, and Aya Na’aman, who died during a trek in eastern Ethiopia last month.
In times of tragedy, he said, the two countries “mourn together as two families.”
“We are brothers,” Abiy was quoted as saying by Jerusalem Post in Hebrew.