July 16, 2018

Eritrea reopens embassy in Addis Ababa in fresh sign of thaw with Ethiopia

Eritrea reopens embassy in Addis Ababa in fresh sign of thaw with Ethiopia

The Eritrean flag rose over a refurbished embassy as leaders toured the grounds

Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki and Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed hold hands as they wave at the crowds in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. AP

Eritrea reopened its embassy in Ethiopia on Monday in further evidence of a rapid thaw between two countries that a week ago ended two decades of military stalemate after a border war in which tens of thousands died.

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Eritrea’s President Isaias Afwerki re-opened the embassy in the capital Addis Ababa in a brief ceremony.

One week ago the leaders declared their “state of war” over and Mr Isaias spent the weekend in Ethiopia.

The leaders jointly raised the Eritrean flag inside a newly refurbished embassy as a military band played Eritrea’s anthem. They then toured the building and looked at its furniture and two rusting cars that belonged to Eritrea’s last ambassador.

The Eritrean leader arrived in Addis Ababa for a three-days visit on Saturday and thousands lined the Ethiopian capital’s main thoroughfare Bole Road, sporting T-shirts emblazoned with the pictures of both countries’ leaders.

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

Eritrea formally seceded from Ethiopia in 1993 after a long battle for independence, but the two fought a border war in 1998. A peace deal was signed two years later but Ethiopia refused to implement it, saying it wanted more talks.

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