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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 21 November 2018

Eritrea president arrives in Ethiopia amid marching bands and red carpets 

Phone lines between the countries opened for the first time in two decades, direct flights are due to start next week

Eritrea's President Isaias Afwerki is welcomed by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed upon arriving for a three-day visit, at the Bole international airport in Addis Ababa. Reuters 
Eritrea's President Isaias Afwerki is welcomed by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed upon arriving for a three-day visit, at the Bole international airport in Addis Ababa. Reuters 

Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki arrived in Ethiopia on Saturday for a historic visit to cement peace less than a week after the two nations declared an end to a two-decade conflict.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed greeted Mr Isaias as a brass band played before inspecting a guard of honour on the start of the three-day visit.

The trip comes just five days after Mr Abiy left Eritrea as part of a dizzying peace process aimed at ending decades of animosity and conflict that began when the Ethiopian premier last month agreed to abide by a UN-backed border ruling and hand disputed territories back to Eritrea.

"The visit will cement further/add momentum to the joint march for peace and cooperation set in motion by both leaders," Eritrean Information Minister Yemane Gebremeskel said on Twitter on Friday.

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Read more:

Eritrea's president to visit Ethiopia to cement truce

Comment: Will the 'bridge of love' prosper between Eritrea and Ethiopia?

Historic peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea ends two decades of hostility

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Ethiopia's state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate said Mr Isaias would stay three days during which the Eritrean embassy would be reopened and his delegation would visit an industrial park in an itinerary highlighting the restoration of diplomatic and trade ties.

Three marching bands, traditional dancers and red carpets were rolled out to greet Mr Isaias at the airport.

Ethiopians lined the main road from the airport to the city dressed in white shawls and waving palm fronds.

The roads of Addis Ababa were lined with Ethiopian and Eritrean flags flying side-by-side as well as banners and photos of the two leaders who on Monday signed a declaration declaring an official end to the war.

The emotion-filled reunion between the two countries has seen residents able to speak to each other via telephone for the first time in two decades as communication lines were re-opened.

Direct flights are due to start next week.

Once a province of Ethiopia, Eritrea seceded in 1993 after a long independence struggle, but a row over the demarcation of the shared border triggered a brutal 1998-2000 conflict which left 80,000 people dead before settling into a bitter cold war.