Eritrea reopens the embassy in Ethiopia under thaw

Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki opened his embassy in Ethiopia on Monday, more than 20 years after the two countries broke their ties when they went to war.

The inauguration of the embassy concludes the historic visit of Isaias to the Ethiopian capital, which aimed to consolidate peace, less than a week after Ethiopia and Eritrea had declared the end of two decades of conflict.

The Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation (EBC) showed Isaias how he picked up the Eritrean flag at the embassy in downtown Addis Ababa and accepted the keys to the dusty furniture that had remained intact for years by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

The embassy visit marked the end of the three-day stay of the Eritrean head of state in Ethiopia, which included a visit to an industrial park and a dinner on Sunday evening and a concert with thousands of Ethiopians.

"The high Eritrean government delegation led by President Isaias has just left Addis Ababa for Asmara," EBC said after Isaias left the embassy.

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Ethiopia and Eritrea expelled their envoys at the start of a border war between 1998 and 2000, which killed about 80,000 people.

Relationships remained frozen after Ethiopia rejected a border demarcation supported by the UN in 2002 which led to a long cold war between the two countries.

Last month, Abiy announced that Ethiopia would accept the demarcation and delivered the land to Eritrea, paving the way for standardization.

Abiy has been pursuing an aggressive reform agenda since he took office in April, including peace with Eritrea, the release of dissident detainees and the liberalization of parts of the economy.

Once a province of Ethiopia, Eritrea voted in 1993 to leave the country after a bloody decade-long struggle for independence.

Since the end of the war, Isaias has used the threat of Ethiopian aggression to justify a series of repressive policies, including a perpetual national aid program that has compared the UN to slavery.

Ethiopian Foreign Ministry spokesman Meles Alem told AFP that Ethiopia has not yet reopened its embassy in the Asmara capital of Eritrea.

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