Obama in Ethiopia to talk security, boost economic ties

World Today

Ethiopia Obama AfricaU.S. President Barack Obama inspects the honor guard after arriving at the National Palace to meet with Ethiopian prime minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, in Addis Ababa , Ethiopia, Monday, July 27, 2015. (AP Photo/Sayyid Azim)

Barack Obama met the Ethiopian prime minister on Monday on the first visit by a serving U.S. president to a nation with one of the fastest-growing economies in Africa.

Talks with Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn are expected to focus on security and the threat of the Islamist militant group al Shabaab in Somalia.

Obama, who arrived from Kenya on Sunday, also wants to boost business ties with Africa.

Ethiopia’s ruling party, in power for quarter of a century, has turned the once famine-stricken economy around, but opponents say it has been at the expense of political freedoms. The opposition failed to secure a single seat in a May parliamentary election.

Ethiopia contributes troops to an African Union peace keeping force battling al Shabaab in Somalia. The group has often launched attacks in Kenya, but diplomats say Ethiopia’s state security apparatus has spared it similar assaults.

Obama will hold talks with regional leaders about the conflict in South Sudan late on Monday. Warring factions have ignored pressure to end fighting, and talks may consider possible sanctions if a mid-August deadline is not met.