The Cuban Prime Minister, Dr Fidel Castro, arrived in Ethiopia on Monday (14 March) on an unannounced visit.
SV Cuban leader Fidel Castro down steps and greeted by Ethiopian Head of State, Lieutenant-Colonel Mengistu Haile-Mariam (2 shots)
GV Castro and Haile-Mariam walking across tarmac and into airport building
SV Castro and Haile-Mariam seated in airport lounge
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Background: The Cuban Prime Minister, Dr Fidel Castro, arrived in Ethiopia on Monday (14 March) on an unannounced visit. The Cuban leader is touring several African states and his invitation to stopover in Ethiopia was seen by political observers as an attempt by that country's leaders to strengthen their ties with Communist nations.
SYNOPSIS: Dr. Castro was greeted when he arrived in Addis Ababa by the new Ethiopian Head of State, Lieutenant-Colonel Mengistu Haile-Mariam, and his deputy, Lieutenant-Colonel Atnafu Abate. Few details of the visit were immediately available. When a gun salute welcomed the Cuban leader's arrival, many shopkeepers were reported to have put down their shutters fearing trouble. It is only six weeks since the former Head of State, General Teferi Bante, and six other members of the Ruling Military Council were killed in a shooting incident at the Grand Palace. Dr Castro's visit is the first time that Colonel Haile-Mariam has acted as Head of State to a visiting foreign leader.
Dr Castro went to Addis Ababa direct from Somalia. Ethiopia has a long-standing dispute with Somalia over rival claims to an area of land. Both countries have a Marxist leadership and the Cuban Prime Minister may be taking a mediating role in the dispute. There have also been some unsubstantiated reports that Ethiopia may seek Cuban assistance in its socialist programme.
Whatever the case, the invitation to Dr Castro will be seen as an attempt by the Ethiopian leaders to strengthen their connections with the world's Communist nations. The Cuban leader is continuing his tour of African countries with a visit to Tanzania.