CHIMWEMWE MWALE, Addis Ababa
PRESIDENT Lungu has held a series of high-level bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the ongoing 28th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU) to discuss various issues with his counterparts for mutual benefit of the individual countries.
And Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn is in March this year expected on a state visit to Zambia while Togolese President Faure Gnassingbe is also expected on a similar visit between March and April this year.
Earlier, the President held a closed-door bilateral meeting with Mr Desalegn which centred on co-operation in the livestock sector.
Special assistant to the President for press and public relations Amos Chanda said President Lungu noted that Ethiopia has performed well in the livestock sector and Zambia wants to learn some of the best practices.
Mr Chanda said in an interview after President Lungu wrapped up his bilateral meetings here on Sunday evening that Ethiopia has also performed well in the dairy and leather industries.
He said the two countries have agreed to exchange skills and technical expertise in the sectors.
Mr Chanda also said President Lungu and Mr Desalegn discussed the production of cotton and development of the agriculture sector into a viable business.
And Mr Chanda said Mr Desalegn is this March expected on a state visit to Zambia to discuss and consolidate the Joint Permanent Commission (JPC) which has been agreed upon between the two countries.
â€œThe Prime Minister [Mr Desalegn] thanked President Lungu for the recent release of 147 Ethiopian prisoners who were languishing in Zambian prisons after being arrested for various immigration offences and have been sent back to their home country [Ethiopia],â€ he said.
Mr Chanda said Mr Desalegn regrets that many Ethiopians are being swindled by unscrupulous travel agents who promise them a better life in South Africa and elsewhere.
Mr Desalegn added that it is unfortunate that most of the illegal immigrants are abandoned in Zambia before reaching their â€˜promised landâ€™ in South Africa.
Mr Chanda said the two leaders have agreed to vigorously combat human trafficking involving Ethiopians.
The two heads of State discussed co-operation in harnessing natural resources and sharing best practices in the mining sector.
â€œThe President of Togo [Mr Gnassingbe] will also visit Zambia in March or April and modalities will be worked out by the relevant institutions in the two countries to ensure this is expedited,â€ Mr Chanda said.
President Lungu later held a bilateral meeting with United Nations (UN) under-secretary general and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) executive director Babatunde Osotimehi.
President Lungu assured Dr Osotimehi that Zambia will continue to champion the fight against child marriages.
Dr Osotimehi commended President Lungu for spearheading the fight against child marriages and for being in the forefront of harnessing demographic dividends through investment in youths.
â€œAnd the highlight of the retreat of the head of State and Government on the reforms of the African Union was the presentation on the AU reforms by Rwandan President Paul Kagame,â€ Mr Chanda said.
CHIMWEMWE MWALE, Addis Ababa