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SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, good afternoon, everyone.  I’m very pleased for this opportunity to discuss the very important relationship between the United States and Ethiopia.  I had a very good visit just last March, and again I want to thank our colleagues not only for their hospitality but also for the very, very good and important conversations that we had.  We’ve been impressed with the progress that’s been made in implementing the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement and the very powerfully changed situation in Tigray as a result of implementing that agreement.  And we look forward today to discussing how we can secure the peace together and how we can continue to strengthen the relationship between the United States and Ethiopia.

So very good to see you again.  Thanks for taking this time today.

FOREIGN MINISTER MEKONNEN:  Oh, thank you very much (inaudible), sir.  This is really a privilege to meet you here on this special occasion.  I would like to express my profound appreciation for this special summit with (inaudible) that’s very timely and important (inaudible).  Yeah, after you – your visit at this (inaudible) promising progress in the peace processes (inaudible) and we’re working to consolidate and to address different outstanding issues.

The (inaudible) government is working closely with the federal government, and the new rehabilitation commission is still working to expedite the reintegration and related activities.  So all of the environment is very, very encouraging and promising.  Perhaps to consolidate this peace process, as you mentioned last time, and we are in discussions with (inaudible) —

U.S. Department of State

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