Eritrea's guide visits Ethiopia for the first time in over 20 years

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia – Eritrea's longtime president arrived in Ethiopia on Saturday for his first visit after 22 years in a surprising diplomatic thaw between his once-bitter rivals.

In Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, thousands were under strict security to greet President Isaias Afwerki, whose visit is the final step in ending the war.

New Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed broke the ice last month by fully endorsing a peace agreement that ended a two-year border dispute.

Mr. Abiy visited Eritrea last weekend for a conversation with Mr. Afwerki, and last week the East African neighbors declared that their state of war was over.

Eritrea will reopen its embassy in Addis Ababa, which has been closed since 1998, on Monday, Ahmed Shide, a spokesman for the Ethiopian government told reporters. He had previously said that the message would reopen on Sunday.

Some Ethiopians have compared the restoration of relations with Eritrea, one of the most closed countries in the world, to the fall of the Berlin Wall. Telephone connections are open, and Strangers in both countries have begun to randomly choose others across the border.

The first scheduled Ethiopian Airlines flights to Eritrea are due to start on Wednesday.

Eritrea gained independence from Ethiopia in the early 1990s, but a border war broke out between the nations and they became embroiled in fierce hostilities that claimed tens of thousands of lives.

The international community has welcomed reunification as a welcome development in a critical and often fragile region in the Horn of Africa, near one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world and opposite the Arabian Peninsula.

The old Eritrean embassy in Addis Ababa has undergone a swift renovation and is due to open during the visit of Mr. Isaias. Mr. Isaias and Mr. Abiy are expected to attend a concert of about 25,000 people on Sunday, featuring local artists.

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