Von der Leyen chose Addis Ababa for her first visit outside Europe

Von der Leyen with Moussa Faki, Chairperson of the African Union, Addis Ababa, 7 December.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Saturday called for more security and less unregulated migration during a visit to Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia and the seat of the African Union (AU), dpa reported. "Only unity will make our continents strong in a changing world. The African Union is a partner I count on," von der Leyen said during her first visit outside Europe as the head of the EU executive.

She said she was not going to present "some grand plan for Africa," but was in Ethiopia "to listen” to the trends and developments shaping the continent, as well as its political and economic priorities.

Von der Leyen began her trip with a meeting with AU commission chair Moussa Faki and other commissioners. She was also scheduled to meet Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who recently won the Nobel Peace Prize, and President Sahle-Work Zewde. Von der Leyen cited strategic cooperation with Africa as one of her main foreign affairs goals, describing the continent as “our close neighbour and most natural partner." The European commission will need to work with African nations to pursue the key policy goal of migration management, a contentious issue among EU member states.

A large proportion of irregular migrants arriving in the EU come from sub-Saharan Africa, according to EU data. One of the new commission's strategies to stem migration is to improve the perspectives of people in countries of origin through regional investment.

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