Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 20 August 2019

Leaders of Ethiopia and Eritrea sign peace accord in Saudi Arabia

Ceremony in Jeddah follows pact signed by Abiy Ahmed and Isaias Afwerki in July

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, left, and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki attend the reopening of the Eritrean embassy in Addis Ababa on July 16, 2018. Reuters
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, left, and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki attend the reopening of the Eritrean embassy in Addis Ababa on July 16, 2018. Reuters

The leaders of Ethiopia and Eritrea cemented their recent peace agreement with the signing of another accord in Saudi Arabia on Sunday.

Saudi Arabia said the document signed by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki was the "Jiddah Agreement", although its terms were not immediately clear.

Mr Abiy and Mr Isaias had earlier signed a "Joint Declaration of Peace and Friendship" in the Eritrean capital Asmara on July 9, committing to "forge intimate political, economic, social, cultural and security cooperation" between the Horn of Africa neighbours after 20 years of enmity.

The ceremony in Jeddah was attended by Saudi Arabia's King Salman and his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, as well Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, the UAE Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

"The peace deal resulted in restoration of normal relations between the countries, on the basis of the close bonds of geography, history and culture between the two nations and their peoples," Saudi Arabia said in a statement.

"The kingdom of Saudi Arabia praised the leaders of Ethiopia and Eritrea for exercising leadership and courage to restore the brotherly relations between the two countries, thus forming the foundation for a new phase that will bring significant developments in the relations between the two nations in all fields," the statement added.

The Ethiopian and Eritrean leaders also were awarded the Order of Abdulaziz Al Saud Medal, the kingdom's highest civilian honor.

Eritrea gained independence from Ethiopia in 1993 after a decades-long armed struggle but war broke out between the two countries in 1998 following a border dispute. More than 70,000 people were killed in two years of intense fighting before a ceasefire was reached.

The July peace agreement came just months after Mr Abiy took office in April and began instituting widespread reforms, including ending a longstanding state of emergency, freeing political prisoners and making peace overtures towards Eritrea. In June he announced that Ethiopia would accept a UN-approved ruling made after the two-year war and hand back disputed territory.

In a show of support for the reformist prime minister, the UAE pledged Dh11 billion for Ethiopia during a visit by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.

Both Mr Abiy and Mr Isaias have praised the role of the UAE and Saudi Arabia in the rapprochement between their nations.

The UAE hosted both leaders in July and awarded them the Order of Zayed, country's highest civilian honour. Sheikh Mohammed said at the time that the peace agreement would "ensure stability and security in the Horn of Africa and the region in general".

The new peace has led to the restoration of trade, communications and travel links, including the reopening of border crossings earlier this month. Landlocked Ethiopia will also have access to the Eritrean Red Sea ports of Massawa and Assab, providing an alternative to Doraleh in Djibouti.


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Updated: September 16, 2018 09:37 PM