By Ismaila Chafe
Abuja – Nigeria and Ethiopia have signed a visa waiver agreement for diplomatic and official passport holders, and a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Cooperation in the field of Defence.
Malam Garba Shehu, the President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, confirmed this development in a statement in Abuja on Wednesday.
According to the statement, President Muhammadu Buhari and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed witnessed the signing of the agreement on Tuesday in Addis Ababa.
The signing was performed by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, and his Ethiopian counterpart, Gedu Andargachew, during the State Visit of the Nigerian leader.
Earlier, while meeting with the Ethiopian Prime Minister, President Buhari had discussed how to explore new areas of collaboration to further enhance and expand Nigeria-Ethiopia bilateral cooperation for the mutual benefits of the two countries.
The visa waiver agreement is expected to ease travels by officials and contribute to further strengthening of bilateral relations.
The Memorandum of Understanding on Defence Cooperation is important to both countries in the coordination of efforts in the fight against terrorism and securing peace and stability in their respective sub-regions, as well as on the continent of Africa.
The MoU will also enhance bilateral military cooperation in the areas of training and education, technical assistance, exchange of visits and defence technology transfer.
It also entails cooperation in peace support operation issues within the framework of the respective laws of the parties and on a reciprocal basis.
”Both sides agreed to swiftly conclude negotiations on the revised Bilateral Air Services Agreement and the MoU on cultural cooperation.
”The consummation of these two agreements will provide veritable platforms for deepening existing air transport services, tourism and cultural exchanges between the two countries,” the statement said.
The presidential aide quoted Buhari to have expressed gratitude to the Government and People of the Federal Republic of Ethiopia for the warm and generous hospitality extended to him and his delegation during the visit.
The Nigerian leader further extended an invitation to Prime Minister Ahmed to pay a reciprocal State Visit to Nigeria on mutually convenient dates.