Ethiopia and France have signed a military cooperation deal on Tuesday that will see the East African country build a navy.
The accord was signed by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and French President Emmanuel Macron, who also took time during the event to share their condolences over the Ethiopian Airlines plane crash on Sunday that saw 157 people lose their lives.
“Allow me to express my condolences to the victims and families of the victims of last Sunday’s Ethiopian Airlines air crash. You know how much we stand by you and all the families of the victims,” Macron said.
“We will have to conduct a detailed investigation. The result of this survey will be useful not only for Ethiopia but for other countries around the world,” said the Ethiopian PM.
Ethiopia is the second country after Djibouti that the French leader will be visiting before holding talks in Nairobi with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Wednesday.
The two leaders are expected to hold a joint press conference on the proposed development of a commuter rail service to Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
President Macron is looking to break from France’s colonial history on the continent and nurture relationships in a region where it has lagged behind in recent years.
Macron wants to leverage a mixture of Paris’ soft power in culture and education and its military know-how to give it a foothold at a time when Ethiopia is opening up.
The accord also provides for air cooperation, joint operations and opportunities for training and equipment purchases.
Ethiopia disbanded its navy in 1991 after its then-province Eritrea, which is on the Red Sea, seceded following a three-decade war for independence.
Other deals agreed include a 100 million Euros boost to the economy and partnerships to preserve Ethiopian churches and open up an archaeological dig at a 12th century village.
Macron, meanwhile has said his Minister for Transport is reviewing the situation with regards to the Boeing 737 MAX flight bans, before making a decision.