Ethiopia has welcomed Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki for his first visit in 22 years. The visit shores up a remarkable improvement in relations after a generation of mutual mistrust and enmity.
Afwerki, Eritrea’s president throughout its 25 years of independence, arrived in Ethiopia on Saturday – less than a week after the two countries declared the official end to a two-decade-old border war.
He was greeted upon landing in the capital Addis Ababa by reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who himself made a historic visit last weekend to Eritrea.
Chief of staff to Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, Fitsum Arega, thanked Isaias “for honoring us with a visit” in a statement.
“I am really happy today. I am very happy that I can reconnect with my brothers and old friends,” the man said. “From now on there is no waiting for Facebook or a telephone call, rather we can meet each other in person. I am very happy that now we can go there by car.”
The 72-year-old Afwerki last visited Ethiopia in 1996, after Eritrea gained independence from its southern neighbor in 1993.