ADDIS ABABA, May 4 -- Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Sunday embarked upon an official visit expected to further deepen his country's relations with Ethiopia in particular and Africa in general.
During his visit to Ethiopia, Li is expected to hold talks with Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, meet President Mulatu Teshome, and hold a seminar with Chinese and African businessmen.
His stay in Addis Ababa, widely reputed as the political capital of Africa, will also see him visit the headquarters of the African Union (AU) and deliver a speech there on cooperation between the Asian country and the promising continent.
Xie Xiaoyan, China's ambassador to Ethiopia and permanent representative to the AU, told reporters Thursday that Li's visit will lift China's friendship and cooperation with Ethiopia and Africa to higher levels.
"I am confident that this visit will further deepen the friendship between China and Africa ... in general and between the Chinese people and the Ethiopian people ... in particular," said the ambassador.
In separate interviews with Chinese journalists here, both Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and President Mulatu Teshome hailed the excellent bilateral relations between Ethiopia and China.
Noting that Ethiopia and China have established strategic partnership based on win-win cooperation, Hailemariam said the Chinese premier's visit to Ethiopia will further deepen the relationship between the two countries.
"This witnesses how strong our relationship is, and this relationship is a win-win situation where both Ethiopia and China benefit," said the prime minister.
Recalling his visit to China last year, Hailemariam highlighted the importance of the exchange of high-level visits between Ethiopia and China to further enhancing bilateral cooperation.
He also lauded the positive role China has played in Ethiopia's fast growth, saying China has exerted positive impact on his country's development endeavor.
For his part, Mulatu said his country and China are enjoying excellent relations based on mutual trust, understanding and respect, adding that China has proved itself to be a dependable friend in Ethiopia's fight against poverty.
With their growing economic interdependence, Ethiopia and China are further strengthening their bilateral relations through political, economic and cultural exchanges as well as through technical assistance, said the president.
"China is considered to be Ethiopia's strategic development partner," noted Mulatu, stressing that the exchange of high-level visits has contributed to the consolidation of bilateral ties between them.
"The multifaceted ... relations between Ethiopia and China will continue to grow both in width and depth because of the fact that our bilateral relations are based on mutual trust, mutual understanding, mutual respect," he said.
Noting that China's investment in his country is increasing rapidly, Mulatu said the input has brought multiple benefits to Ethiopia, including job creation, expansion of foreign currency reserves, and transfer of technology and industrial management skills.
Erastus Mwencha, deputy chairperson of the AU Commission, said Thursday that China has long been a staunch supporter of Africa's development, especially in the development of infrastructure, and the AU's peace and security efforts.
"In the area of peace mediation, also post-conflict reconstruction, China has supported us particularly in the case of South Sudan," even in Sudan, Mali and Somalia, added the AU official.
Commenting on Li's upcoming visit, he said this kind of high-level visit "inspires confidence to our people, the people of Africa and the people of China, and it brings us closer," he said.