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Leaders of bitter foes Ethiopia, Eritrea meet for historic peace talks

10 July 2018

Eritrea's President Isaias Afwerki warmly welcomed Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed when he landed at Asmara airport, before the leaders headed to the presidential palace.

In this grab taken from video provided by ERITV, Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, centre right, is welcomed by Erirea's President Isaias Afwerki as he disembarks the plane, in Asmara, Eritrea, July 8, 2018.

The two countries fought a bitter war almost 20 years ago over a disputed border.

"The events of these past two days between Ethiopia and Eritrea are like the fall of the Berlin Wall".

Beyond the officials' tweets, there were no official comments from either camp on the two nations' state broadcasters.

The two neighbors started a frontier war in 1998 that killed an estimated 80,000 people.

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The "State of war that existed between the two countries has come to an end", Eritrea's information minister, Yemane Gebremeskel, wrote on Twitter.

Abiy's Chief of Staff Fitsum Arega wrote on Twitter that Ethiopia had officially submitted a request to Guterres during his visit to Addis Ababa for the lifting of sanctions against Eritrea, which include an arms embargo as well as asset freeze and travel bans against select individuals. He said the Ethiopian leader's visit was "history in the making" and had "set the tone for rapid, positive changes".

Direct worldwide telephone connections were restored between the two countries for the first time after two decades, an Ethiopian official said on Sunday.

However, the sides did not make clear whether the most immediate issue - Abiy's pledge to finally implement all terms of a 2000 peace deal with Eritrea - had been addressed.

Ethiopia and Eritrea are no longer at war, the neighbouring nations said in a joint statement Monday after a series of historic meetings in Asmara to end decades of acrimony and conflict.

Ethiopia's state-owned airlines will resume flights to Eritrea's capital Asmara next week, a state-affiliated news agency reported on Monday, hours after the neighbours and longtime foes declared their "state of war" over.

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The landmark visit saw both countries signing a joint declaration of peace and friendship.

They opened phone lines between the two countries that had been cut for two decades, and land-locked Ethiopia said it would be given access to the sea at an Eritrean port.

Addis Ababa: Ethiopia and Eritrea agreed to resume flights, open embassies and develop ports together on Monday, the most concrete signs of a rapprochement that has swept away two decades of hostility in a matter of weeks.

In office since April, Abiy has pursued an ambitious reform agenda, including reversing years of policy and announcing that Ethiopia would abide by the 2002 boundary ruling.

Across the border, Eritrea is one of the world's most isolated and repressive nations and has long used the Ethiopian threat to justify hefty military spending and the long-term conscription that has caused hundred of thousands of young men to flee, mostly to Europe.

However, it has also attracted opposition from hardliners in the Tigrayan People's Liberation Front (TPLF), the ethnic Tigrayan party that has dominated the ruling EPRDF coalition - and by association the country and economy - for almost three decades.

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Leaders of bitter foes Ethiopia, Eritrea meet for historic peace talks