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26.12.2019 Ethiopia

Eritrean president vows to 'bolster cooperation' with Ethiopia

By AFP
Eritrea's President Isaias Afwerki (L) and Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed first met last year.  By EDUARDO SOTERAS (AFP/File)
LISTEN DEC 26, 2019
Eritrea's President Isaias Afwerki (L) and Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed first met last year. By EDUARDO SOTERAS (AFP/File)

Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki promised Thursday to boost cooperation with Ethiopia on the last day of his two-day visit that came as the peace process was seen as having lost momentum.

Isaias flew to Addis Ababa Wednesday for his first meeting with the Ethiopian prime minister since Abiy Ahmed won the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize for initiating a thaw between the countries which fought a border war in 1998-2000.

That conflict left an estimated 80,000 dead before a stalemate took hold and which was only resolved by Abiy's unexpected outreach to Isaias.

Isaias expressed gratitude Thursday for the hospitality accorded to his delegation during the visit.

He pledged to work with "vigour to recoup lost opportunities by three generations to bolster (a) new chapter of cooperation between the two countries", according to a tweet by Eritrea's communications minister, Yemane Meskel.

Isaias and Abiy on Thursday laid the cornerstone of the future Eritrean embassy in Addis Ababa.

After the two leaders first met and embraced on the tarmac in Asmara, the Eritrean capital, last year, they reopened embassies, resumed flights and held a series of meetings across the region.

But the initial optimism fuelled by these gestures faded, and citizens of both countries complain that they are still waiting for meaningful change.

During the Nobel award ceremony in Oslo earlier this month, Norwegian Nobel Committee chairwoman Berit Reiss-Andersen noted that the peace process "seems to be at a standstill", with border crossings closed and little apparent progress on border demarcation efforts.

She said the committee hoped the Nobel would "spur the parties to further implementation of the peace treaties".

This visit was the first time the two leaders have met in person since July.

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