Eritrea, Ethiopia deepen peace, President Isaias in Addis

Eritrea, Ethiopia deepen peace, President Isaias in Addis

"The end of hostilities with Ethiopia is a joyous moment for Eritreans, but it must be followed by tangible reforms that make a real difference in the daily lives of the people and put an end to decades of repression in the country", said Seif Magango, Amnesty International's Deputy Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

1998 - After two years of tensions over trade and other issues, clashes break out along the border over ownership of the disputed town of Badme, before evolving into a full-scale war.

Isaias arrived in the Ethiopian capital just five days after Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed visited Eritrea as part of a dizzying peace process aimed at ending years of violence and animosity between the neighbours who were once part of the same nation. An estimated 80,000 people are thought to have died during the two-year war.

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.

"All individuals must be allowed to freely express themselves - on the streets and in the media, including social media, without fear of being victimized by the authorities".

A marching band, a dance troupe and a heavily armed contingent of commandos flanked the Eritrean President as he stepped off the plane and onto the tarmac. The two exchanged pleasantries while dozens of onlooking reporters, kept at a distance by the security detail, clamoured for photos.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed made a visit to Eritrea's capital last weekend, welcomed by Afwerki and given a street parade with thousands of Eritreans lining the streets to greet Ahmed.

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The two leaders have now committed to fully implementing the commission's decision.

"Ethiopia was declared landlocked [due to the state of war]".

Afeworki left Addis Ababa after inaugurating the embassy.

"Welcome home President Isaias!" The Red Sea state initially enjoys warm ties with Ethiopia, which is led by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.

Near the airport, some residents chanted songs criticizing the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front, which used to be Ethiopian ruling coalition's strongest political party until Abiy came to power at the beginning of April. State broadcaster Ethiopian Television (ETV) chose to cut the audio and play music during their live broadcast as crowds of chanting youths waving the flags of both countries, continued to deride the Eritrean President. Since they fought in 1998 they have had no diplomatic cooperation.

The two countries signed an official declaration of peace on Monday, with the two leaders announcing joint development of ports in Eritrea, the reopening of roads from land-locked Ethiopia, and the restarting of flights. A visit to the city of Awassa is also believed to be scheduled.

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