ADDIS ABABA – Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Ethiopian counterpart, Hailemariam Desalegn, on Monday urged South Sudan’s warring parties to sign a cease-fire to end weeks of fighting that has left thousands dead.
“We agreed that the cessation of hostilities in South Sudan and national reconciliation is the most important way forward,” Hailemariam said at a joint briefing with Abe.
The comments came amid peace talks in Addis Ababa between rival South Sudanese parties aimed at ending weeks of violence that has displaced over 200,000 people and brought the young country to the brink of civil war.
Ethiopia and Japan said they were committed to stability in South Sudan, which gained independence in 2011.
“I have confirmed with (Hailemariam) that Japan and Ethiopia will maintain close contact and exchange information for stability for the situation in South Sudan,” Abe said, adding peace, security and aid in Africa were priorities for his government and promised $11 million to support refugees in Ethiopia.
Abe also announced $4.8 million to develop Ethiopia’s agriculture sector and said his government would invest in geothermal power production.
In addition, the countries launched the first direct flight between the two countries to boost political and economic ties.
“We have to double our efforts to bring our trade relations to the level possible between our two countries,” Hailemariam said.
Abe reiterated his commitment to increasing Japan’s role in Africa, home to several of the world’s fastest growing economies.
“The Abe administration is the administration that has placed the greatest emphasis on Japan’s relationship with Africa,” he said.
The two-day trip to Ethiopia is Abe’s final stop on an Africa tour that has also taken him to Oman, Cote d’Ivoire and Mozambique in a bid to boost ties and business relations in Africa, which has become a key trading partner with China.