After a 20-year-long border dispute, the two leaders in the Horn of Africa have met in the Eritrean capital, Asmara. Land-locked Ethiopia is to start using Eritrea's port, the Ethiopian premier said in televised remarks.
The greeting between Ethiopia's newly elected reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and neighboring Eritrea's longtime president Isaias Afwerki in Eritrea's capital Asmara has been broadcast live in both countries. It is a scene that seemed improbable just a couple months ago.
Abiy's chief of staff, Fitsum Arega, posted photos of the leaders' meeting at the airport and said Abiy was "very warmly received" by the 72-year-old Afwerki, who has ruled Eritrea since it gained independence from Ethiopia in 1993 after a years-long rebel insurgency.
Eritrea's Information Minister Yemane G. Meskel tweeted photos of the leaders and the cheering crowds as the leaders made their way through the capital, Asmara, in a motorcade.
After their meeting, Abiy said land-locked Ethiopia would start using the port of Eritrea: "Ethiopia will resume using Eriteria’s port," Abiy said in remarks broadcast by state broadcasters while both leaders attended a dinner.
Direct international telephone connections were restored between the two countries for the first time after two decades, Abiy's chief of staff, Fitsum Arega, said on Twitter on Sunday.
Ending a feud
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is opening up Ethiopian society and trying to move his country past its long-running feud with its northern neighbor which borders the Red Sea.
Abiy's chief of staff said that the visit will "further deepen efforts to bring about lasting peace."
While some Ethiopians, particularly those along the border, still oppose the improving ties, many want peace.
In addition to burying past differences with Eritrea, Abiy has embarked on a series of domestic reforms, releasing journalists and opposition figures who have been imprisoned, opening up the state-run economy and unblocking hundreds of websites.
The reforms come after years of anti-government protests demanding more freedoms.