Ethiopian, Eritrean leaders at concert for diplomatic thaw

Eritrea President arrives in Ethiopia for State visit

Afwerki's visit to Ethiopia, the first in more than 20 years, capped a month of fast moving developments meant to break the hostilities between the two countries since they fought a bloody border war from 1998-2000, which killed an estimated 70,000 people from both sides.

Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki arrived in Ethiopia on Saturday in a historic visit to cement peace between the two neighbours following two decades of hostilities.

Some chanted songs criticizing the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front, which was Ethiopian ruling coalition's strongest political party and hostile to Eritrea until Abiy came to power at the beginning of April and introduced a breathtaking series of political and economic reforms.

"Hate, discrimination, and conspiracy is now over", Isaias told Ethiopians as he was close to tears.

DW's correspondent in Addis Ababa Yohanes G. Egiziabher spoke to one excited onlooker who said he was looking forward to being able to cross the border to see friends.

"We've seen the awful face of war, if there is peace there is everything to gain, 20 years isn't an easy time, I believe now the reconciliation process is irreversible because we've seen that the alternative isn't good", she told Xinhua. Eritrea is due to reopen its embassy in Addis Ababa on Monday. Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed welcomed Afeworki and his high-level delegation. "But we need to protect the democratic rights we are regaining now".

A former Ethiopian province, Eritrea seceded in 1993 after decades of bloody conflict.

Under the peace agreement, Ethiopia will hand over disputed border regions to Eritrea.

Meanwhile, thousands of citizens, including children, have been forced into military training and national service, a policy that has prompted many young people to flee the country.

Eritrea also has faced years of United Nations sanctions over alleged support to extremists, which the government has denied, and Abiy already has called for them to be lifted.

Business is another focus, as landlocked Ethiopia seeks outlets for its fast-growing economy and already has signed agreements to use Eritrea's port facilities. "I have known him for more than 40 yrs".

In a tweet Eritrea's information minister, Yemane Meskel described the reopening of the embassy as "yet another milestone in the robust and special ties of peace and friendship both countries are cultivating with earnestness in these momentous times".

The worldwide community has embraced the reunion as a welcome development in a key, and often unstable, region along one of the world's busiest shipping lanes and across from the Arabian Peninsula.



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