Somaliland (An autonomous part of Somalia) is set to sign a bilateral partnership agreement with Ethiopia by the end of 2012, covering such wide-ranging issues as security, commerce and diplomacy. The country is set for strengthened commercial ties with Ethiopia.
The two neighbouring countries of Ethiopia and Somaliland will sign a broad based bilateral partnership agreement before the end of the year.
The forthcoming agreement that encompasses enhanced security, commercial, diplomatic and other relations is as per accords reached in Addis Ababa during a meeting between Dr Mohamed Abdilahi Omar and Hon Berhane Gebre-Kristos, the foreign ministers of Somaliland and Ethiopia, respectively.
During the discussions that took place at the Ethiopian ministry of foreign affairs headquarters, the new Ethiopian foreign minister promised not only maintain prevalent existing bilateral relations but to strengthen them in the process.
The two parties agreed to set up respective national technical committees with the mandate to explore and establish parameters for multi-sectored partnership.
The technical committees will meet in the Ethiopian city of Dire-Dawa in November in order to strategize and reach consensus on a number of proposed partnerships before the official signing in December.
Other issues on the table include shared inter-border tax collection, security, and use of Berbera port, which is currently the main imports and exports outlet for Ethiopia, which is landlocked.
The two foreign ministers also dwelt on the issue of electricity supply to Somaliland, which has been a topic on numerous occasions, concurred that the technical teams should give priority to this matter and thus enable Somaliland to benefit from a cheap power source.
While this is the first meeting between the two countries since the death of former PM Meles Zenawi, it is also the first for Hon Berhane Gebre-Kristos, who assumed office recently as a replacement for former holder and current PM Haile Mariam Desalegn.
The proposed meeting in Dire-Dawa and subsequent signing of the all encompassing partnership agreement comes at a time when the two countries need to clear the ongoing insecurity encountered by Ethiopians of Somaliland origin living in the Zone Five area.