Addis Ababa is the third biggest diplomatic center of the world and a political center of Africa hosting many regional, continental, international and multilateral organizations. The city has witnessed a great success in attracting the visits of many heads of states and governments as well as leaders of international organizations in 2017.
Undoubtedly, the visits showcased the growing role Ethiopia has been playing in African politics and beyond, and the rapid economic growth the country has been registering for a decade and plus years.
Hereunder, The Ethiopian Herald presents some of the major visits by leaders and prominent personalities to Ethiopia.
In the past year, presidents of South Sudan, Djibouti, Sudan and Somalia paid state visits to Ethiopia. The visits of the neighboring leaders primarily aimed at enhancing economic integration and fostering cooperation in peace and security issues.
South Sudanese President Salva Kiir Mayardit took the lead in commencing a three-day official visit in February 23, 2017 and held discussions with Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn on bilateral issues of mutual interest.
Ethiopia and South Sudan have signed agreements in various fields including expansion of infrastructure, communication, media, preferential trade as well as border trade protocol. The two also inked memorandums of understandings in diesel off-take arrangement, health, and energy sectors.
During the discussion, Ethiopia pledge to construct roads inside South Sudanese border by its own cost in the gesture of good neighborliness.
The two leaders agreed to work for the restoration of peace and stability in South Sudan and Ethiopia affirmed its unwavering support to South Sudan's peace process.
Prior to his departure, President Kiir had also paid a visit to Bole Lemi Industrial Park in the outskirts of Addis Ababa.
As a Chair of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and neighboring country, Ethiopia has been playing a leading role in bringing South Sudanese warring parties into round table.
The Leader of Ethiopia's eastern neighbor President Ismael Omar Guelleh landed in Addis Ababa in March 16, 2017 for a three-day state visit. The Djibouti's President held separate deliberations with Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, President Mulatu Teshome and other high-level government officials.
Premier Hailemariam and President Guelleh vowed to extend the existing cooperation on security, trade, development and infrastructure along their common border. The leaders also expressed commitment to cement bilateral relations by deepening and diversifying scope of cooperation between the two countries and peoples.
Ethiopia and Djibouti have concluded four agreements namely Agreement on Extradition, Trade Cooperation, Mutual Legal Assistance on Criminal Matters and Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in the Fields of Justice and Legal Training. Furthermore, consensus was reached to foster the trade and investment relations.
President Guelleh addressed the joint session of the House of Peoples' Representatives and House of Federation, stating his presence is a symbol of the two countries longstanding relations. The President visited Bole Lemi Industrial Park and laid a cornerstone for the construction of the new embassy.
Ethiopia and Djibouti have symbolic economic interconnections through railway, power, telecom and fiber optics as well as utilities like water. While the Ethio-Djibouti railway commenced service recently, Ethiopia has conducted over 90 percent of its import-export activities via the Port of Djibouti.
The third President, Omar Hassen Al-Bashir of Sudan arrived in Addis Ababa in April 4, 2017 for a three-day official visit and met with Prime Minister Haile Mariam Desalegn.
Following the discussion, accord was reached to commence the construction of the railway that would connect Ethiopia with Port Sudan.
The two countries came to terms to expand Ethiopia's access to Port Sudan and build a 500-KVA (kilovolt-ampere) interconnection line from Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) to Sudan.
In a joint press briefing he gave with Premier Hailemariam, President Al-Bashir said that the two countries are working to connect GERD with Khartoum and Sudan agreed to buy 300 MW (Megawatt) of electricity from Ethiopia. The two countries agreed to build cross-border roads and enhance the telecom connectivity.
In the political frontier, the two leaders reached agreement to work closely to ensure peace and stability in South Sudan and Somalia.
President Al-Bashir paid visits to the Omo-Kuraz Sugar Factory and Hawassa Industrial Park.
Ethio-Sudan bilateral relation getting new momentum and agreement was reached Ethiopia to acquire plot of land at the Port Sudan that enables it to construct a port facility that would be beneficial for the country to get alternate port access.
It was in May 3, 2017 that Somalia's President, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed made his two-day state visit to Ethiopia and conferred with Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.
The two leaders agreed to work together to eliminate Al-Shabaab from Somalia and Hailemariam affirmed Ethiopia's readiness to support Somali Armed Forces enable to take over the responsibility of securing the country from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).
On his part, President Mohamed appreciated the role Ethiopia has played in Somalia's peace and stability under the framework of AMISOM and by its own.
It was disclosed that Ethiopia and Somalia prepared comprehensive strategy to fight Al-Shabaab and agreed to set up a joint ministerial commission that would foster economic cooperation and the free movement of people.
Ethiopian troops deployed under the umbrella of AMISIOM weaken Al-Shabaab and forced it to leave from its strongholds in Somalia.