Obama’s Upcoming Visit to Ethiopia Recognizes Country’s ‘Enormous Importance’
BY LARRY LUXNER
Nearly 112 years after the United States and Ethiopia established diplomatic ties, US President Barack Obama will become the first sitting American leader ever to visit the East African nation—a visit the Atlantic Council’s J. Peter Pham says is long overdue.
“This is a country with which we’ve had diplomatic relations for more than a century,” said Pham, Director of the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center. “Economically, it’s one of the five fastest-growing countries in the world, with a number of years of double-digit growth. And with its population of 90 million and its tremendous potential for US companies, it’s also an anchor of stability in a very volatile region.”
On June 19, the White House announced that Obama would stop in Addis Ababa sometime in late July on his way back from Kenya, where he plans to visit his father’s homeland for the first time as President. Specific dates for the trip have not yet been made public.
In addition to being Africa’s second-most populous country (after Nigeria, with about 175 million people), Ethiopia is home to the headquarters of the fifty-four-member African Union (AU), which was established in Addis Ababa in 2001 to replace the Organization of African Unity (OAU).
Pham said the country’s location on the Horn of Africa—and its proximity to Djibouti, Eritrea, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, and South Sudan—makes it of particular strategic importance to the Pentagon. Read more