Ethiopia and Eritrea have agreed to resume their diplomatic and commercial relations, signaling an end to almost two decades of hostility.
The agreement was reached on Sunday during a historic meeting between Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki in Asmara.
Ties between the two African neighbors were severed following a border dispute which claimed nearly 80,000 lives in the late 1990s.
The announcement capped weeks of diplomatic efforts, driven by Abiy, resulting in his visit to the Eritrean capital for face-to-face talks with Isaias.
“We agreed that the airlines will start operating, the ports will be accessible, people can move between the two countries and the embassies will be opened,” Abiy said at a dinner hosted by his Eritrean counterpart.
“We will demolish the wall and, with love, build a bridge between the two countries,” Abiy continued.
The two countries will also resume flights as well as direct phone connections. During the landmark meeting, the two leaders personally symbolized the breakthrough and embraced warmly.
The Horn of Africa nations had been at loggerheads since Ethiopia rejected a United Nations ruling and refused to cede to Eritrea land along the countries’ border following the 1998-2000 war.
However, in June 2018, Abiy announced that his country would abide by the 2002 ruling requiring it to cede territory, including Badme, and withdraw its forces.
Eritrea’s president responded positively and sent a delegation to Addis Ababa to devise a plan for future action.