ADDIS ABABA- Longtime Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki touched down in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on Saturday for a three-day state visit that boosts hopes for reconciliation between the two former bitter rivals.
Eritrea and Ethiopia have so far agreed to open embassies, develop ports and restart flights.
Ethiopia and Eritrea had expelled each others' envoys at the start of the 1998-2000 border war, which killed about 80,000 people.
Abiy, who is also trying to bring stability to a country that has been torn by protests since 2015, survived a grenade attack last month. "Eritreans and Ethiopians are happy because of this moment we can say from this moment we are not two people but one people", he said.
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He described the embassy opening as "yet another milestone in the robust (and) special ties of peace and friendship both countries are cultivating with earnestness in these momentous times". Eritrea formally declared its independence from Ethiopia in April 1993 in a referendum, but the two countries share close cultural, ethnic and religious ties. Semere is now Eritrea's Minister of Education. However, it has not yet announced the withdrawal of troops from the area.
The Horn of African nation introduced mandatory 18-month national service for 18 to 50-year-olds in 1995, two years after seceding from Ethiopia, to help in the reconstruction effort following a 30-year liberation war.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed hugs Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki to mark the resumption of diplomatic ties between the two nations.
Amnesty International has said the newfound peace should be a catalyst for change in Eritrea, one of the world's most isolated nations.