Ethiopia is an important ally and a strategic partner for the United The states of America especially in the maintenance of peace and security and counter-terrorism in the Horn of Africa. The US Administration is also grateful for the fact that Ethiopia is undertaking massive political reforms and registering economic growth to transform the lives of its citizens. Ethiopia and the United States of America have long and historical relations.
The diplomatic relationship between the United States of America and Ethiopia was established on December 27, 1903, when King of Ethiopia Menelik II and the U.S. representative Robert P. Skinner, an envoy of the then US President Theodore Roosevelt, signed a trade treaty. In the treaty, the two countries agreed to receive representatives of each other to carry out and strengthen friendly relations between them. This relation further enhanced by the treaties of arbitration and conciliation signed in Addis Ababa on 26 January 1929 which granted Most Favored Nation status to Ethiopia. This diplomatic engagement was considered to be cordial and sustained until the Italian occupation of Ethiopia in 1935. The United States didn’t officially recognize the Italian authority in Ethiopia.
In 1906, the United States of America formally opened its consulate office in Addis Ababa. In the same vein, Ethiopia sent the first Ethiopian delegation to the United States in 1919. Following that, Ethiopia opened its consulate office in Washington DC in 1943 and Blata Ephraim Tewolde Medhin was appointed as the first Resident Minister. In 1949, the United States and Ethiopia agreed to upgrade their diplomatic representations from Legation to Embassy. Accordingly, Ras Imeru Haileselassie was appointed as the first Ethiopian Ambassador to the United States of America and Mr. George Merrill became the first US Ambassador to Ethiopia.
During the reign of Emperor Haile Selassie, the two countries enjoyed very close relations and helped Ethiopia to secure America's support. After World War II, Ethiopia, and the U.S. signed agreements that strengthened their ties further. In 1952, the Cooperation Program is known as Point Four Technical Aid Agreement was instrumental in spurring their relations and considered to be a basis for future engagement.
Between 1954 and 1973, Emperor Haileselassie I visited the United States five times. The relationship between Imperial Ethiopia and the United States reached its peak in the 1960s as many Ethiopian soldiers got military training in the United States. The 1974 Ethiopia's revolution, however, put the two country's relations in a different course. As the Ethiopian regime, the Dergue chose socialism as its ideology and inclined towards the then Eastern Block, U.S. - Ethiopian relations began to lose momentum and eventually stalled. Consequently, the U.S. military base Kagnew station was closed in 1977 and the Americans left the country. During the Derg period, the ambassadorial level relationship of the two countries was downgraded to Charge d' Affaires status. However, their bilateral relations improved with the 1991 downfall of the Mengistu’s regime.
Following a change in government in Ethiopia in 1991, U.S. - Ethiopia relations improved as legislative restrictions on non-humanitarian assistance to Ethiopia were lifted. Their diplomatic relationship was also upgraded to the ambassadorial level in 1992. Total U.S. government assistance, including food aid, between 1991 and 2003 was $2.3 billion. During the severe drought year of 2003, the U.S. provided a record $553.1 million in assistance, of which $471.7 million was food aid. It is to be recalled that the late leader PM Meles Zenawi paid the first working visit to the United States from August 10-14/ 1994 when he was President of the Transitional Government of Ethiopia. Meles Zenawi met with President Clinton and other high officials and talked about issues of mutual interest. The two countries' relations have since evolved into a close partnership and strategic level. This was evident during the bilateral discussions that were held between the then Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and President Barack Obama on September 25, 2014, on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly.
Currently, the United States and Ethiopia have close diplomatic relations as friends and partners. They are working very closely on economic growth and development; democracy, governance, and human rights; as well as regional peace and security.