Naturally, no relationship is static, nor should it be. It can be expected that in the next few years, economic links and development issues are going to become even more important than they are today in connections between the two countries. One of the central elements of Ethiopia's foreign policy today is working towards the successful achievement of the country's objectives in the economic sphere. The US has been extremely generous in the provision of its valuable humanitarian and social sector assistance. Ethiopia is, and will remain, deeply grateful for all its aid and assistance. But while assistance to Ethiopia in these critical areas has been admirable, the US has stayed aloof from assistance in structural projects in development in the last decades. Its role in infrastructure, for example, has been limited. These are areas which are going to be among the most important in shaping the country's future over the next decades. We believe it is indisputable that laying the foundation of strong ties between our two countries over the next decades will also be in the interest of the US.

Ethiopia is changing and changing fast. Its role in the Inter-Governmental Authority for Development (IGAD), as in the region of the Horn of Africa, in Eastern Africa and in Africa in general is continuing to grow. This is not self-congratulatory, but realistic. It is something that is becoming apparent in the pro-active role that Ethiopia has been playing in the AU on a number of issues including climate change. All this is commensurate with Ethiopia's steady progress in the economic area and in development. Following seven years of double digit growth, Ethiopia has realistic hopes to become a middle income country in the next decade or so. It will achieve many, if not all, of the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.

The relationship between the US and Ethiopia is based on mutual benefit and, we believe it should also be based on mutual respect. Given its value, we would also emphasize that a realistic and accurate evaluation of progress in Ethiopia is in the interests of both countries. Despite the apparent views of Senator Feingold, Ethiopia, we should emphasize once again, is a stable and democratic country. It is involved in a series of major political and economic changes in developing its nine-state federal democracy. Certainly, this may still be a work in progress, and many developments have yet to fulfill their potential but that potential is clearly there. We believe that this needs to be taken into consideration in any evaluation of the relationship between the US and Ethiopia. Indeed, how Ethiopia is developing and how this should be evaluated is surely relevant to US national interests in this region of Africa and more widely. It is this that must underpin any relationship that is based on the twin pillars of mutual respect and mutual benefit.

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