Bitter foes Ethiopia, Eritrea hold historic peace talks

Leaders of Ethiopia and Eritrea attend historic summit to end two-decade-long border dispute

Leaders of Ethiopia and Eritrea attend historic summit to end two-decade-long border dispute

Ethiopia's reformist new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed arrived in Eritrea's capital and a live broadcast by Eritrean state television showed President Isaias Afwerki greeting him at the airport in scenes unthinkable just months ago.

"1) State of war has come to an end;2) The 2 nations will forge close political, economic, social, cultural & security cooperation 3) Trade, economic&diplomatic ties will resume, 4) The boundary decision will be implemented, 5) Both nations will work on regional peace", read the Ethiopian version.

The two nations have not had warm relations in a very long time.

Last month a grenade was thrown at a rally the prime minister addressed in the capital Addis Ababa.

Addis Ababa: Ethiopia and Eritrea agreed to resume flights, open embassies and develop ports together on Monday, the most concrete signs of a rapprochement that has swept away two decades of hostility in a matter of weeks.

Ethiopia's state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate reported that Ethiopian Airlines would begin passenger flights between the two capitals as early as next week.

Direct global telephone connections were restored between the two countries for the first time after two decades, an Ethiopian official said on Sunday.

Also Sunday, telephone connections were established between the neighbouring countries.

Abiy's chief of staff, Fitsum Arega, said on Twitter that the visit will "further deepen efforts to bring about lasting peace".

Free movement across the border will also unite, once again, two peoples closely linked by history, language and ethnicity.

With laughter and hugs, the leaders of longtime rivals Ethiopia and Eritrea met for the first time in almost two decades.

Espousing love between their two countries, the leaders of longtime adversaries Ethiopia and Eritrea agreed Sunday to restore diplomatic relations after almost 20 years and to open the border between their neighbouring Horn of Africa countries. Eritrea was part of Ethiopia until 1993, when it declared its independence in a referendum.

The break rendered Ethiopia landlocked, and ties deteriorated five years later when a dispute over their shared frontier descended into war.

Ethiopian access to Eritrea's ports will be an economic boon for both, as well as posing a challenge to the increasing dominance of Djibouti which had benefited from importing and exporting the vast majority of goods to Africa's second-most populous country.

The visit of Ethiopia's prime minister to Asmara comes a month after Abiy surprised people by fully accepting a peace deal that ended a 20-year border war between the two East African nations that killed tens of thousands.

Kenya's Uhuru Kenyatta also congratulated the two leaders for "choosing the path of talking to each other and beginning the journey of friendship".

Mr Abiy, who took office in April, has accepted a ruling awarding disputed territory to Eritrea.

He has released prominent dissidents from jail, announced the partial liberalisation of the economy, admitted the security forces use torture and pursued peace with Eritrea.

"(Abiy) is expected to talk with the Eritrean leadership (about) how to mend fences", Ethiopian foreign ministry spokesman Meles Alem told AFP.

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