Wednesday, July 18News That Matters

Eritrea’s president in Ethiopia for three-day visit as relations improve


ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Eritrea’s President Isaias Afwerki arrived in the Ethiopian capital on Saturday for a three-day visit, Ethiopia’s state-run broadcaster reported, days after the two neighbors declared their “state of war” over.

FILE PHOTO: Eritrea’s President Isaias Afwerki listens as he meets with Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir during his official visit in Khartoum, Sudan June 11, 2015. REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/File Photo

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed met Isaias at the airport. The two leaders hugged and left together in the same armored SUV, in the latest sign of rapprochement between the Horn of Africa neighbors.

The meeting comes a week after Abiy visited Eritrea and signed a pact with Isaias on resuming ties, a move that ended a near 20-year military standoff after a border war.

Reconciliation between Ethiopia and Eritrea could change politics and security in the volatile Horn of Africa region, which hundreds of thousands of young people have fled in search of safety and opportunities in Europe.

Abiy, who is also trying to bring stability to a country that has been torn by protests since 2015, survived a grenade attack last month.

A Reuters witness said thousands thronged Addis Ababa’s main thoroughfare Bole Road, sporting T-shirts emblazoned with the pictures of both leaders. The flags of both countries fluttered from lamp posts, while some waved giant Eritrean flags.

“Welcome home President Isaias!!”, Abiy’s chief of staff wrote on Twitter.

Eritrea and Ethiopia have so far agreed to open embassies, develop ports and restart flights. Eritrea is due to reopen its embassy in Addis Ababa on Monday.

Eritrea’s Information Minister Yemane Meskel said on Twitter Isaias was accompanied by several ministers and other senior government officials.

Reporting by Aaron Maasho; Writing by George Obulutsa; Editing by Mark Potter

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