ADDIS ABABA – Eritrea’s President Isaias Afeworki will make an official visit on Saturday to Ethiopia’s capital city of Addis Ababa, only few days after both countries signed a peace agreement to put an end to their 20-year border conflict, authorities confirmed on Friday.
“President Isaias Afeworki will arrive in #Ethiopia tomorrow for a 3 days state visit upon invitation of HE PM Dr Abiy (Ahmed),” chief of Staff Fitsum Arega of the Ethiopian Prime Minister’s Office wrote on his Twitter account.
“The visit will strengthen the friendship & ties b/n #Ethiopia & #Eritrea. We thank HE President Isaias for honoring us with a visit & we welcome him warmly!” he added.
Eritrean Minister of Information Yemane G. Meskel also confirmed the trip on Twitter, assuring that “the visit will cement further/add momentum to the joint march for peace and cooperation set in motion by both leaders.”
The visit of the Eritrean president comes a few days after his historic meeting with the Ethiopian prime minister in Asmara, marking the first meeting between leaders of both countries in 20 years.
Among the points made in the agreement was to reestablish telephone communications and flight connections between their countries.
The African leaders agreed that “both countries will work to promote close cooperation in political, economic, social, cultural & security areas,” Yemane said.
In addition, “border decision will be implemented” as part of the peace deal, according to the Eritrean minister.
Eritrea seceded from Ethiopia in 1993, but border disputes continued and eventually developed into the Eritrean-Ethiopian War (1998-2000), which left thousands of people dead on both sides.
The war ended with the signing of the Algiers Agreement on December 12, 2000.
However, when the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC) granted jurisdiction over the disputed city of Badme to Eritrea, Ethiopia refused to enforce its decision. The then Ethiopian premier Meles Zenawi said he would only accept the EEBC ruling “in principle.”
Since then, relations between these two African states have been frail. However, Abiy, who arrived in office last April, has sought a rapprochement between the two nations.
The Algiers Agreement is not widely accepted in Ethiopia as many Ethiopians think they were betrayed by the government after their country won the war, in which Abiy also fought as a member of the Army’s radio communication unit.