Eritrea's Isaias Afwerki in historic Ethiopia visit

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 President arrives in Ethiopia for State visit

A visibly moved Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki, clasping his hands over his heart, addressed the crowd in Ethiopia's official language, Amharic, on his first visit to the country in 22 years.

"This is a historic day for all of us", President Isaias Afwerki said.

With the old Eritrean embassy in Addis Ababa set to reopen on Sunday, some Ethiopians have compared the thawing of relations to the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Eritrea's President Isaias Afwerki arrived in the Ethiopian capital on Saturday for a three-day visit, Ethiopia's state-run broadcaster and a Reuters witness said, days after the two neighbours declared their "state of war" over.

The concert on Sunday highlights the end of years of hostility between the two arch-foes in East Africa, who fought a bloody border war from 1998 to 2000. A series of diplomatic breakthroughs quickly followed as one of Africa's longest-running conflicts neared an end.

The Eritrean leader's visit to Ethiopia continues Monday as Isaias is expected to re-open his country's embassy.

Near the airport, some residents chanted songs criticizing the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front, which used to be Ethiopian ruling coalition's strongest political party until Abiy came to power at the beginning of April.

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'I'm very emotional right now. On Saturday Isaias visited an Ethiopian industrial park in southern Ethiopia. The two leaders hugged and left together in the same armored SUV, in the latest sign of rapprochement between the Horn of Africa neighbors. Flags of both nations fluttered from lamp posts, while some people waved giant Eritrean flags.

The worldwide community has embraced the reunion as a welcome development in a key, and often unstable, region along one of the world's busiest shipping lanes and across from the Arabian Peninsula.

This week, with the phone connection between the two countries restablished, Ethiopians and Eritreans were reported as making phone calls to random numbers in each other's countries just to say hi to strangers they hadn't been able to call in decades.

Meanwhile Eritrea, one of the world's most isolated nations, has pursued policies that have hamstrung the economy by scaring off investors, including an indefinite military conscription programme the UN has likened to slavery.

It is clear that not everyone in Ethiopia takes too kindly President Isaias Afewerki's arrival on Ethiopian soil.

Afwerki's visit to Ethiopia, the first in more than 20 years, capped a month of fast moving developments meant to break the hostilities between the two countries since they fought a bloody border war from 1998-2000, which killed an estimated 70,000 people from both sides.

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