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Ethiopia, Eritrea Reopen Border Crossing

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September 11, 2018 8:41 AM
VOA News

The rapidly warming ties between Eritrea and Ethiopia took another step forward Tuesday when the once-bitter rivals reopened their shared border afer two decades.

Yemane Meskel, Eritrea's information minister, announced the historic event on Twitter "President Isaias Afwerki & Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed today officially opened the Debay Sima - Burre border point between the two countries for road transport connectivity," Meskel wrote, referring to the Eritrean president and Ethiopian prime minister respectively.

Meskel said Afwerki and Ahmed will conduct a similar ceremony later Tuesday at the Serha-Zalambesa border point.

The reopening of the border crossing was held during a ceremony to mark the Ethiopian new year. Fitsum Arega, Prime Minister Abiy's chief of staff, posted pictures of a camouflage-dressed Abiy walking next to President Afwerki clad in olive drab.

Relations between the Horn of Africa neighbors have improved since Prime Minister Ahmed announced in June that Addis Ababa would finally honor a U.N.-brokered deal signed in 2000 to end a two-year border war that killed an estimated 70,000 people. The war was followed by nearly two decades of cold war, proxy conflicts and, at times, open hostilities.

The announcement led to a historic peace deal signed last month by Ahmed and Afwerki that formally ended one of Africa’s longest, most intractable conflicts. The two sides have since reopened embassies and re-established air routes, telephone lines and cross-border trade.

Eritrea, a former province of Ethiopia, broke away from its much larger neighbor in 1993.