The Ethiopian head of state, Lieutenant-Colonel Mengistu Haile mariam, says Ethiopia's defence capability has been getting better and better during the last six years, with most of its major weaknesses having been removed.
GV Soldiers on parade at Guenet Military Training Centre, Ethiopia
SV PAN Convoy arrives at parade ground
SV Mengistu Haile Mariam receives flowers from young girl and kisses her
Mariam and Brigadier General Tesfaye Woldkidan arrive to applause of officials and others lined up beside road (2 shots)
SVs Mariam and Woldkidan inspecting troops (2 shots)
SCU Mariam speaking to crowd
SV PAN AND SVs Cadets receiving cups and diplomats to applause from crowd (3 shots)
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: The Ethiopian head of state, Lieutenant-Colonel Mengistu Haile mariam, says Ethiopia's defence capability has been getting better and better during the last six years, with most of its major weaknesses having been removed. He was speaking at a graduation ceremony for cadets at the Guenet Military Training Centre, west of the capital, Addis Ababa.
SYNOPSIS: The ceremony on Saturday (15 March) marked the graduation of the thirty-ninth cadet course at the centre. More than one thousand cadets successfully completed a training programme in various specialist fields including infantry, tank, artillery and anti-aircraft warfare. Some graduates were veterans who had seen action on various fronts before joining the course. High-ranking military officials greeted the Ethiopian leader, who later inspected the cadet guard of honour and presented prizes and diplomas.
Colonel Mariam said that Ethiopia's improved defences did not represent a threat to anyone. He saw the strengthening as a sign of the country's determination to defend its territory and its hard-won revolution. He spoke of "conducted belligerency from hostile regimes" near Ethiopia, and said his country could not afford to slacken the pace of its military preparations.
Relations between Ethiopia and neighbouring Sudan have been strained because of Sudanese support for secessionist guerrillas in Ethiopia's Red Sea province of Eritrea. Increased fighting in the Eritrean conflict is said to have prompted Soviet efforts to negotiate an end to the 18-year-old conflict.
Talks between Sudanese and Ethiopian leaders a week ago were seen by observers as a further thawing of relations between the tow countries, which have agreed to co-operate in supervising their joint border. But the war continues, and guerrilla reports claim a recent battle on the Red Sea Coast resulted in heavy casualties on both sides, with four Ethiopian tanks lost. The Ethiopian authorities also face increased guerrilla activity in the northern province of Tigray, where local Liberation Front supporters have reportedly gained control of several towns.