Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki reopened his country’s embassy in neighbouring Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, marking a dramatic thaw in relations after years of stalemate.
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 over a border war in which tens of thousands died.
Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Eritrea’s President Isaias Afwerki reopened the embassy in the capital Addis Ababa in a brief ceremony.
One week ago the leaders declared their “state of war” over and Isaias spent the weekend in Ethiopia.
The rapprochement could help Ethiopia, a landlocked country of 100 million people with the largest economy in East Africa, by making access to Eritrea’s ports possible.
Better ties could help Eritrea overcome decades of relative isolation.
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.
Isaias left Addis Ababa to return home soon after reopening the embassy.
The Eritrean leader arrived in Addis Ababa for a three-day 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 Abiy visited Eritrea and signed a pact with Isaias on resuming ties, a move that ended a nearly 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 that claimed lives of at least 80,000 people.