Ethiopian Premier Visits Eritrea as Nations End Decades of Strife

(Bloomberg) -- Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed arrived in the Eritrean capital, Asmara, Sunday for talks with President Isaias Afwerki aimed at ending almost two decades of strife.

“This historic official visit and the summit that will take place between the two leaders of both countries, is the first of its kind for 20 years,” Yemane Gebremeskel, Eritrea’s information minister, said on his Twitter account. “It heralds a new era of peace and cooperation.”

A meeting between Isaias and Abiy, whose nations have been at odds since a 1998-2000 border war, will cap landmark talks that began last month between officials from both countries. Eritrea seceded from Ethiopia in 1993 after decades of conflict. A rapprochement began after Abiy became premier in April and the ruling party’s politburo pledged to implement a long-delayed peace deal.

Ethiopia announced on June 5 it would fully implement the so-called Algiers Agreement signed in 2000 to formally end a two-year war between the Horn of Africa neighbors that killed about 100,000 people. The deal was never enacted, with Ethiopia refusing to recognize a monitor’s findings on ownership of the disputed border town of Badme.

Isaias sent a delegation, including Foreign Minister Osman Saleh, for talks in Ethiopia after Abiy said he was keen on normalizing relations.

Abiy arrived in Asmara on an Ethiopian Airlines Enterprise plane. The national carrier is resume flights to neighboring Eritrea by September after a two-decade absence.

“Our two nations share a history and bond like no other,” the Ethiopian prime minister’s chief of staff, Fitsum Arega, said on his Twitter account. “We can now overcome two decades of mistrust and move in a new direction.”

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.