Defence minister Charles Nqakula is on a two-day official visit to the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia during which he will sign an Agreement on Defence Cooperation.
Ministry of Defence spokesman Sam Mkhwanazi says the agreement will strengthen the defence cooperation of the two defence forces and further consolidate the current friendly and good ties that exist between the two countries.
He notes that soldiers of the two countries joined forces during peacekeeping operations in Burundi in 2004.
“In this regard, the agreement will seek to promote close cooperation, mutual understanding and collaboration between the two countries in matters of defence, including in peace operations of the African Union and the United Nations.
“Ethiopia is one of the major role-players in the Horn of Africa region and as such South Africa views this agreement as of strategic importance in the context of peace, stability and development on the African Continent,” he adds.
Through the Agreement, both countries will work towards achieving the following:
· to develop and formulate procedures for military cooperation between their respective Armed Forces;
· promote the training of military personnel through the exchange of trainees, instructors and observers;
· promote technical cooperation;
· cooperate in the field of military medical services;
· cooperate in the exchange of knowledge and training in the field of United Nations and African Union peacekeeping operations and
· encourage the exchange of military personnel at all levels to enhance sport and cultural links between the Armed Forces of the two countries.
During World War Two South African troops played a leading role in liberating Ethiopia from Italian fascist occupation and also put an end to Italy`s colonial rule in neighbouring Somalia. Italian dictator Benito Mussolini had invaded Ethiopia, then ruled by Emperor Haile Selassie in 1936, from Somalia and Eritrea, using air power and chemical weapons to good effect. (In February 1941 Mogadishu “fell” to a pair of war correspondents, Carel Birkby of the SA Press Association and a colleague from the SA Broadcasting Corporation.)