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France suspends military co-operation with Ethiopia

France has suspended its military co-operation with Ethiopia due to concerns about the conflict in the northern region of Tigray, AFP cited two official sources with knowledge of the issue as saying on 13 August.

The sources said that a deal agreed by French President Emmanuel Macron and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in March 2019 was suspended at the beginning of July. Under the agreement, France would loan EUR85 million to help Ethiopia set up a navy even though it has been landlocked since Eritrea gained its independence in 1993, AFP reported.

The loan was not mentioned when the agreement was announced, with Marcon saying in a press conference that the “unprecedented” agreement provided a framework for supporting the establishment of the Ethiopian navy, as well as enhancing aviation and training co-operation.

The then Ethiopian defence minister accompanied senior military officers on a visit to France in January 2020 to discuss training and equipping their country's air and naval forces, the Ethiopian embassy in Paris said.

Paris approved an export licence worth EUR52 million under the ML10 category covering aircraft and related equipment and another licence for EUR7 million in the ML21 software category later that year, according to the French Ministry of Armed Force's annual report to parliament on defence exports.

The ministry told the Mediapart news website in May that initial work had begun on the 2019 agreement to define the Ethiopian navy's future structure and establish a roadmap and training programmes, but that no vessels had been exported by France.

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