Ethiopia’s prime minister, Abiy Ahmed received French president Emmanuel Macron at the site of the buried churches of Lalibela, Ethiopia, a threatened World Heritage site that France wants to help preserve.
Macron last year pledged a Franco-Ethiopian agreement on a new system to protect these monuments threatened by erosion.
Back in Addis Ababa, a number of deals were penned by sector ministers as Abiy and Macron looked on.
The agreements include a deal to help Ethiopia build a navy and provides for air cooperation, joint operations and opportunities for training and equipment purchases.
“This unprecedented defense cooperation agreement provides a framework… and notably opens the way for France to assist in establishing an Ethiopian naval component,” Macron told a news conference alongside Abiy.
They also agreed deals to develop Ethiopia’s cultural heritage, including preserving churches and opening an archaeological dig at a 12th century village. Paris will provide 100 million euros to help the country’s economic transition.
Macron was also expected to commiserate with Ethiopia, a country mourning the crash on Sunday of an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing, which killed 157 people, including 9 French.