Diplomatic ties between Ethiopia and Eritrea have resulted in boosting of economic ties between the two former foes.
For the first time in two decades, an Ethiopian ship docked in an Eritrean port on Wednesday. Eritrea took the momentum in improved ties further saying, it would upgrade a road to Ethiopia, said the country’s local media.
The improvement in diplomatic ties comes in the wake of a July peace deal which ended the enmity that existed between the two nations for more than two decades. Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed also had a face to face meeting with Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki. This is their second such face-to-face encounter since July.
As a mark of friendship, Abiy and Isaias traveled the entire 70-km road that links Assab’s port along the Red Sea to the town of Bure just across the border in Ethiopia, which had not been used since a two-year war broke out between the neighbors in 1998.
“They were able to confirm that the existing road link was in good state,” said state-run EriTV while commenting on the improved diplomatic ties. “There are (now) plans to modernize the port in Assab and enlarge the road linking it to Bure to four lanes (from one)”.
In 1998, access to Assab and Eritrea’s other port in Massawa were cut off to Ethopia, a landlocked nation; this forced Ethiopia to turn to Djibouti for access to the sea.
Ever since the cutting of these diplomatic ties, Ethiopia’s population of 100 million has been entirely dependent on Djibouti, its tiny neighbor, for access to the sea. It had also negotiated a deal with Sudan to hold equity in its Port Sudan. Such was its need for access to the sea.
Abiy and Isaias are scheduled to hold a summit with Somalia’s President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo in Asmara on Thursday.
It’s the second time Abdullahi’s has visited Eritrea since July 30 in latest sign of thawing in improved diplomatic relations across the Horn of Africa following Eritrea’s rapprochement with Ethiopia.