At the National Palace, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia |

PRIME MINISTER HAILEMARIAM DESALEGN:  Members of the press, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to once again welcome His Excellency, the President of the United States of America, to Ethiopia.  We are honored to receive a sitting U.S. President for the first time in the history of our century-long diplomatic relations.  But again, we believe it’s fitting and appropriate in the light of the fact that Ethiopia is the Cradle of Mankind, the beacon light for African independence, and an inspiration for all the black people’s struggles, and the political capital of Africa.

Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee — (laughter) — and with so many firsts to its name, and as such a first and historic visit by the first U.S. President of African origin, I believe it’s a well-deserved one.  His visit comes at a time when both Africa and Ethiopia are registering impressive growth, making important strides.  For Ethiopia, the economy has registered double-digit growth for the last 12 years, uninterruptedly.

His visit also comes at a time when we’re working hard in improving governance and fighting insecurity, conflicts and terrorism.  His visit could not have come at a better time, as the leader of the most powerful nation on Earth, diplomatically, economically, and more importantly, in science and technology and education — the very things Africa and Ethiopia need in abundance if they are to sustain their growth.  President Obama’s visit represents a new height in our bilateral relations.

This morning, we have had extensive bilateral discussions with President Obama on a range of topics.  We have discussed ways of further deepening our bilateral relations and our cooperation on a number of issues.  Among the areas we have discussed, we talked at length about the U.S. support in helping expand trade and investment in Ethiopia.

As you know, the U.S. is Ethiopia’s strategic partner in many fields.  And the steady of flow of quality investment from the United States, as much as we crave it, though the recent beginning is so encouraging, has often been in short supply.  We have discussed, among other things, how to encourage U.S. investors to come to Ethiopia in large numbers, where there are numerous competitive and comparative advantages they can benefit from.

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