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ADDIS ABABA, July 16, 2018 (News Wires) - Eritrea's President Isaias Afwerki reopened his country's embassy in Ethiopia on Monday, more than 20 years after the two countries broke off relations when they went to war.

The embassy inauguration caps Isaias's historic visit to the Ethiopian capital aimed at cementing peace less than a week after Ethiopia and Eritrea declared an end to two decades of conflict.

State-run Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation (EBC) showed Isaias raising the Eritrean flag at the embassy in downtown Addis Ababa and accepting from Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed keys to the building, filled with dusty furniture that appeared untouched for years.

The embassy visit marked the end of the Eritrean leader's three-day stay in Ethiopia that also included a visit to an industrial park and a Sunday evening dinner and concert attended by thousands of Ethiopians.

"The high-level Eritrean government delegation headed by President Isaias just left Addis Ababa for Asmara," EBC reported after Isaias departed the embassy.

Ethiopia and Eritrea expelled each others' envoys at the start of a 1998-2000 border war that killed around 80,000 people.

Last month, Abiy announced Ethiopia would accept the demarcation and cede land to Eritrea, paving the way for normalisation.

 

ADDIS ABABA, July 14, 2018 (MENA) - Eritrea's longtime president arrived in Ethiopia for his first visit in 22 years on Saturday amid a dramatic diplomatic thaw between the once-bitter rivals, ABC News reported.

Thousands turned out in Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa, under tight security to welcome President Isaias Afwerki, whose three-day visit is the latest step in ending a long state of war.

"Welcome home President Isaias!!" the Ethiopian prime minister's chief of staff said on Twitter.

Ethiopia's new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed made a similar visit to Eritrea's capital last weekend, welcomed by Isaias with hugs andlaughter.

The 42-year-old Abiy broke the ice last month by fully embracing a peace deal that ended a 1998-2000 border war that killed tens of thousands and left families separated.

A series of diplomatic breakthroughs quickly followed as one of Africa's longest-running conflicts neared an end.

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, July 13, 2018 (News Wires) - Eritrea's president, Isaias Afwerki, will visit neighbouring Ethiopia on Saturday, an official said Friday, in the latest step towards peace and reconciliation between the long-time foes.

"President Isaias Afwerki will lead a delegation and pay (an) official visit to Ethiopia tomorrow, 14th July," Eritrea's Information Minister Yemane Gebremeskel said on Twitter Friday, with Ethiopian media reporting Eritrea's embassy would also reopen on Sunday.

"The visit will cement further/add momentum to the joint march for peace and cooperation set in motion by both leaders," Yemane said.

Ethiopia's state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate said Isaias was making a three-day trip during which the embassy would be reopened and his delegation would visit an industrial park in an itinerary highlighting the resoration of diplomatic and trade ties.

The leaders of Ethiopia and Eritrea signed a declaration ending the state of war between the two countries on Monday, during a groundbreaking visit to Asmara by Abiy.

Addis Ababa, July 10, 2018 (New Wires) - The first passenger flight between Ethiopia and Eritrea since the start of a 20-year conflict will take place next Wednesday, Ethiopian Airlines said in a statement.

The African aviation giant said on Tuesday it would initially operate a once-a-day return flight between Addis Ababa and Asmara but planned "very quickly" to operate multiple flights daily as well as cargo flights.

"With the opening of a new chapter of peace and friendship between the two sisterly countries, we look forward to starting flights to Asmara with the B787," said chief executive officer Tewolde GebreMariam.

"The resumption of air links will play a critical role in boosting the overall political, economic, trade and people-to-people ties between the two sisterly countries."

An initial statement said the first flights between the two countries would take place on Tuesday July 17, but this was later pushed back to Wednesday July 18.

After decades of acrimony that followed a 1998-2000 border war that killed 80,000 people, Ethiopia and Eritrea on Monday declared the official end of the conflict in a dizzying rapprochement.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed paid a historic visit this week to his country's bitter foe in Eritrea, President Isaias Afwerki, after taking the shock decision last month to finally abide by a United Nations ruling demarcating the border between their nations.

The two nations have restored telephone communications for the first time in two decades and pledged to re-open embassies, while landlocked Ethiopia is to be allowed to use Eritrea's ports.

The opening of ties could be an economic boon to the two nations, both poor but on very different paths.

Ethiopia, with a population of 100 million, is forecast by the International Monetary Fund to be Africa's fastest-growing economy in 2018 with growth of 8.5 per cent. However it is struggling with mounting debt and foreign exchange shortages.

Abiy has announced a slew of reforms since his ascension to power, including the partial liberalisation of the economy.

Eritrea is one of the world's most isolated countries, where a policy of indefinite forced military conscription has seen hundreds of thousands flee the country to Europe.

Addis Ababa, July 9, 2018 (News Wires) - Ethiopia and Eritrea are no longer at war, the neighbours said in a joint statement on Monday, a day after their leaders held a historic meeting in Asmara.

Quoting from a "Joint Declaration of Peace and Friendship," Eritrean Information Minister Yemane Gebremeskel said on Twitter the "state of war that existed between the two countries has come to an end. A new era of peace and friendship has been ushered (in)."

"Both countries will work to promote close co-operation in political, economic, social, cultural and security areas," Yemane added.

He said the agreement was signed by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki on Monday morning at state house in Asmara.

Images of the ceremony showed the two men sharing a wooden desk, backed by their nations' flags, as they simultaneously signed the document.

The declaration echoed comments made by Abiy at a dinner hosted by Isaias late Sunday, where he said diplomatic, trade, transport and communications ties would be re-established and borders reopened.

Recent weeks of rapid rapprochement are aimed at ending decades of animosity, periods of outright conflict and many years of cold war between the two countries.

The thaw began last month when Abiy said Ethiopia would abide by a 2002 UN-backed ruling, made after a two-year frontier war, and hand back disputed border territory, including the flashpoint town of Badme, to Eritrea.

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, July 8, 2018 (News Wires) — With laughter and hugs, the leaders of longtime rivals Ethiopia and Eritrea met for the first time in nearly two decades Sunday amid a dramatic diplomatic thaw.

Ethiopia’s reformist new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed arrived in Eritrea’s capital and a live broadcast by Eritrea’s state television showed President Isaias Afwerki greeting him at the airport.

Crowds danced and sang for the leaders, and Asmara’s streets were hung with Ethiopian and Eritrean flags. Abiy and Afwerki then travelled across the capital in a large motorcade as people wearing T-shirts with photos of the two leaders cheered.

The visit comes a month after Abiy surprised people by fully accepting a peace deal that ended a two-year border war between the two countries. Ethiopia and Eritrea have not had diplomatic ties since the fighting began in 1998, with Abiy himself fighting in the war, and the countries have skirmished since then in one of Africa’s longest-running conflicts.

Abiy’s chief of staff, Fitsum Arega, said on Twitter that the visit aims to “further deepen efforts to bring about lasting peace.”

“Our two nations share a history and bond like no other,” he said. “We can now overcome two decades of mistrust and move in a new direction.”

Ethiopians expressed welcome shock at the historic meeting, which was shown live by Ethiopia’s state TV.

“Historic … the beginning of the end. The glass ceiling has been broken,” one resident, Shewit Wudassie, wrote on Facebook. Another Facebook user, Djphat Su, wrote: “Am I dreaming or what?”

The decision to fully accept the peace deal was the biggest and most surprising reform yet announced by Ethiopia’s 42-year-old prime minister, who took office in April and quickly set off a wave of reforms, freeing journalists and opposition figures from prison, opening up the state-run economy and unblocking hundreds of websites after years of anti-government protests demanding more freedoms.

Eritrea’s Afwerki days after the announcement noted “positive signals” from Ethiopia and sent the first official delegation in two decades to “gauge current developments directly and in depth” to plan future steps.

While Ethiopia is Africa’s second most populous nation and one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, tiny Eritrea is one of the world’s most closed-off nations, ruled by Afwerki since gaining independence from Ethiopia in 1993 after years of rebel warfare. But the two countries share close cultural ties.

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