Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (L) and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki raise the flag over the Eritrean embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia,on Saturday. Photo by EPA-EFE
July 16 (UPI) -- Eritrea reopened its embassy on Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Monday, a sign a two decades-long stalemate is over.
Ethiopian Prime Mminister Abiy Ahmed ceremonially handed the keys to the embassy to Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki as they jointly raised the Eritrean flag at the refurbished building.
The embassy opening ended Afwerki's three-day visit to the Ethiopian capital. His visit came a week after the Eritrea and Ethiopia, countries on the Horn of Africa that are among the world's poorest, agreed a "state of war" was over.
"Hate, discrimination, and conspiracy is now over," Isaias said in an embassy speech. "We are ready to move forward with you as one. No one can steal the love we have regained now."
Ahmed concurred in his address.
"Forgiveness frees the consciousness. When we say we have reconciled, we mean we have chosen a path of forgiveness and love," he said.
In 1998, Ethiopia rejected a United Nations demand to cede border territory to Eritrea. The two countries expelled each other's diplomatic envoys in 1998, triggering a 12-year war in which at least 80,000 people died. That territory will now be ceded to Eritrea, an independent country since it broke away from Ethiopia in 1993.
The leaders have agreed to reopen embassies, develop ports and restart commercial airline flights.
Ethiopian Airlines will begin first passenger flight between the two countries on Wednesday.