Saturday 21 July 2018
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13 days ago

Bitter foes Ethiopia, Eritrea hold historic peace talks

ADDIS ABABA - 8 July 2018: The leaders of bitter foes Ethiopia and Eritrea met on Sunday, hugging and smiling for cameras in Eritrea’s capital as officials on both sides heralded an end to a near 20-year military standoff.

Eritrea’s long-time leader Isaias Afwerki welcomed recently elected Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed at Asmara’s airport in the morning before they departed for the State House for talks.

The meeting was the first of its kind between leaders of the two Horn of Africa neighbors and rivals since they fought a war in the late 1990s in which around 80,000 people died.

“This historic official visit, and the summit that will take place ... heralds a new era of peace and cooperation,” Eritrea’s Information Minister Yemane Gebremeskel wrote on Twitter.

“The yearning for peace was palpable (and) we’ll decidedly move forward for the good of our people,” Abiy’s chief of staff wrote on Twitter, alongside photos of cheering Eritreans on the streets of Asmara waving their own and Ethiopia’s flags.

The scenes were unimaginable before last month, when an unexpected rapprochement began.

In early June, Ethiopia announced it would honor all the terms of a peace deal, suggesting the government might be ready to settle a border dispute.

Eritrea responded positively, sending a delegation to Addis Ababa last month.

BOLD REFORM AGENDA
Abiy, who took office in April, said during that meeting that Ethiopian Airlines would restart flights to Eritrea for the first time since the war, when the nations who share a common history severed diplomatic relations.

The 41-year-old leader is pushing other bold reforms to open Ethiopia up to the outside world after decades of security-obsessed isolation.

He has pardoned dissidents, lifted a state of emergency and pledged to partly privatize key state-owned firms.

Across the border, Eritrea is one of the world’s most isolated and repr

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