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French President to visit Lalibela this week

President Emmanuel Macron of France in his first official trip to Ethiopia on Tuesday March 12, will meet Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in Lalibela, famous for its rock-hewn monolithic churches, directly flying from Djibouti.
Macron expressed support for PM Abiy’s ambitious reforms and diplomatic peace efforts during the Prime Minister’s Paris visit last October.
Following Macron’s pledge to PM Abiy that his government would help Ethiopia restore the UNESCO registered heritages of Lalibela churches, experts from France have recently visited the site.
According to the information Capital obtained, the president will continue his visit to Addis and meet the nation’s top leaders the same day. On Wednesday March 13 he is said to be meeting with African Union Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat before traveling to Kenya to co-chair One Planet Summit with President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Sources said that on March 12 there will be a signing ceremony at the National Palace on several areas of cooperation ranging from heritage protection to military collaboration.
On Wednesday French and Ethiopian private and public sectors are expected to meet in connection with the visit.
Ministers from the French and Ethiopian sides will attend the event, which is scheduled to be held at Hilton Hotel. Sources said that seven accords will be discussed in areas including: defense cooperation, heritage and culture, space science and economy.
The president will be accompanied by his ministers Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs, Florence Parly Minister of the Armed Forces and Frédérique Vidal, Minister of Higher Education, Research and Innovation.
The president’s visit includes a 150 member delegation that comprises personalities from the cultural sector and economy among others.
Sources told Capital that companies like CMA CGM one of the world’s logistics giants, Bollore which came to Berbera port of Somaliland a few years ago to manage the port and other top French companies are are in the delegation accompanying Macron.
His visit will be followed by a delegation from Movement of the Enterprises of France (MEDEF), the largest employer federation in France, on March 15. MEDEF.
During his trip to France, PM Abiy had announced that Ethiopia would reestablish its naval force using the experiences of France and Kenya. He also asked Macron to provide support in the conservation of the rock- Hewn churches of Lalibela.
In 2013 former president François Hollande came to Addis Ababa in relation to the 50th anniversary of the African Union. And Nicolas Sarkozy also traveled to Ethiopia in 2011. But Emanuel Macron’s visit is the first official visit by a French President since General Charles de Gaulle state visit in 1966.
France is one of Ethiopia’s major economic partners; A prime destination for Ethiopian exports, while Ethiopia imports industrial products including well known French automobiles. French investors such as BGI, one of the pioneer companies in Ethiopia when the free market was introduced in the mid-1990s, are prominent in the country. Government bodies and agencies like the French Development Agency support Ethiopia in aviation, energy, urban development and industry.

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