The Latest: Ethiopia, Eritrea to withdraw border troops

The Latest: Ethiopia, Eritrea to withdraw border troops

FOX NEWS, Ethiopia – The Latest on Ethiopia and Eritrea’s diplomatic thaw (all times local):

6:05 p.m.

Ethiopia’s leader says troops on both sides will withdraw from the border with Eritrea, shortly after the countries officially opened the border following two decades of tensions.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in comments carried by the state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate says that “to ease the tense atmosphere that existed in border areas, Ethiopian Defense Forces will return to various camps to recover and obtain additional training. The same will be done on the Eritrean side.”

Abiy and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki marked the Ethiopian new year on Tuesday by opening two border posts while emotional people embraced after the long separation.

The once-bitter rivals in recent weeks have restored diplomatic and other ties after Abiy announced that Ethiopia would fully embrace a peace deal that ended a 1998-2000 border war.

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11:40 a.m.

Eritrea says the border between it and former rival Ethiopia has officially opened after two decades.

Information Minister Yemane Meskel in a post on Twitter says Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed have opened the border point at Bure for “road transport connectivity” and later will conduct a similar ceremony at the Serha-Zalambesa crossing.

The leaders have been celebrating their recent diplomatic thaw by marking the Ethiopian new year at their border.

The two have made a dramatic reconciliation since Abiy shortly after taking office announced that Ethiopia would fully embrace a peace deal that ended a bloody 1998-2000 border war.

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10:30 a.m.

The leaders of Ethiopia and Eritrea are celebrating their recent diplomatic thaw by marking the new year at their border.

The chief of staff for Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed says in a Twitter post that Abiy and longtime Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki are visiting the Bure Front along with members of their militaries.

The former bitter rivals have made a dramatic reconciliation since Abiy shortly after taking office announced that Ethiopia would fully embrace a peace deal that ended a bloody 1998-2000 border war.

Embassies have reopened, telephone lines have been restored and commercial flights between the capitals have resumed.

Abiy on Monday said that “as of today, Ethiopian and Eritrean people will prosper together and march in unison. … The last five months have brought hope and reconciliation.

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BBC Ethiopia-Eritrea border reopens after 20 years

Ethiopians and Eritreans have been celebrating the reopening of two key crossing points more than 20 years after a border war shut them.

Hundreds of people from the two countries hugged each other and some wept as their leaders led celebrations to mark the reopening.

Ethiopia also announced that its troops would start withdrawing from the border area.

These are the latest moves in the rapprochement between the ex-enemies.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki signed a peace deal in July, restoring diplomatic and trade relations between the nations.

The reopening at Burre gives landlocked Ethiopia access to the sea. Another border post, near the Ethiopian town of Zalambessa, also reopened.

The reopening coincides with the Ethiopian New Year, adding to the festive atmosphere.

“This is the happiest day of my life. I never thought this would take place in my lifetime,” Reuters news agency quotes Eritrean Ruta Haddis as saying.

The war, fought over the exact location of the boundary between Ethiopia and Eritrea, began in May 1998 and left tens of thousands of people dead.

It ended in 2000 with the signing of the Algiers agreement. But peace was never fully restored as Ethiopia refused to implement a ruling by a border commission established by the agreement.

Eritrea won independence from Ethiopia in 1991 but members of the same family continued to live on both sides of the border as the two countries enjoyed good relations until 1998.

The crossing at Zalambessa is on the main trade route linking the capital of Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region with Eritrea’s capital, Asmara.

Its closure damaged trade, and consequently the economy in the border region suffered.

The reopening of the border at Burre should allow Ethiopia to access Eritrea’s southern port of Assab.

What else has changed between the two countries?
This is just the latest in a series of rapid changes as relations between Ethiopia and Eritrea have thawed.

In July, Mr Abiy and Mr Isaias signed a declaration saying that the “state of war” between the two countries was over.

Since then, phone calls and flights between the two countries resumed, and last week a ship registered in Ethiopia arrived in an Eritrean port.

The two countries have also reopened their embassies in each others’ capital cities.

What will happen at other parts of the border?
For now, only the land crossings at Zalambessa and Burre have reopened. The details about other parts of the 1,000km (620 miles) border still need to be worked out.

There is a lot of hope that the Ethiopia-Eritrea rapprochement will change the whole region
The town of Badme, the flashpoint for the 1998-2000 conflict, was ruled to be in Eritrea by the border commission set up by the Algiers peace agreement.

But until recently Ethiopia, which still administers Badme, refused to accept this. That changed when the two leaders met, but the town has not yet been handed to Eritrea.

Prime Minister Abiy announced that Ethiopian soldiers would start pulling out from border areas, in compliance with the Algiers peace deal, but it is not clear when this will affect Badme.

What happened to Zalambessa during the war?
The border town was one of the main theatres of the conflict.

During the two-year war, Zalambessa was occupied by Eritrean forces and, in the fighting, much of it was destroyed.

But Eritrea has never contested that it is part of Ethiopia and its status is not controversial.

Eritrea’s President Isaias Afwerki (l) and Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed met ahead of the reopening of the border
What other changes have happened in the region?
The rivalry affected the whole region, with Ethiopia and Eritrea normally taking opposite positions whatever the question.

They took rival sides in Somalia’s long conflict – Eritrea was accused of backing Islamist groups, while Ethiopia, a US ally, supported the internationally recognised government.

That is now changing and last week Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia signed a cooperation agreement to restore peace and stability to the region.

Eritrea and Djibouti also agreed to normalise relations after a dispute over their border had threatened to break out into war.

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Roads connecting Eritrea and Ethiopia re-opened

Shabait, 11 September 2018- President Isaias Afwerki and Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed officially opened today, 11 September, the Debai-Sima-Bure and Serha-Zalmbessa border points connecting the two countries.

The Debai-Sima-Bure and Serha-Zalambessa roads that have been closed for 20 years are important roads transporting people and goods from and to Eritrea-Ethiopia and especially goods from Assab and Massawa ports.

The event was attended by Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Osman Saleh, Presidential Adviser, Mr. Yemane Gebreab, Maj. Gen. Humed Mohammed Karikare and Ambassador Mohammed-Seid Mantai, Governor of the Southern Red Sea region on the Eritrean side and Mr. Demeke Mokonnen, Deputy Prime Minister and Gen. Seare Mokennen, Chief of Staff of the Ethiopian Armed Forces on the Ethiopian side.

At the ceremony held to re-open the Debai-Sima-Bure road, the two leaders were accorded warm welcome by the Sultan of Rahaita, Mr. Abdulkadir Dawud, village elders, religious leaders as well as by members of the Armed Forces of the two countries.

In the same vein, President Isaias Afwerki and Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed in the afternoon hours of today, 11 September accompanied by the high level delegations and members of the Armed Forces as well as a number of nationals of both countries officially opened the Serha-Zalambessa road.

Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed returned home in the afternoon hours of today.

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