Eritrea’s President Isaias Aferweki has announced plans to send a delegation to its long-standing rival, Ethiopia, to begin talks to resolve a bitter border dispute that has lasted for 16 years, reports BBC.
President Aferweki made the announcement in front of thousands of people who had gathered in the capital, Asmara, for celebrations to remember people who died fighting for the country’s independence.
The statement is Eritrea’s most significant response since Ethiopia’s ruling EPRDF coalition announced earlier this month that it would fully abide by a 2002 border ruling to cede territory to Eritrea.
Both Ethiopia and Eritrea still have troops along the border
The move has faced opposition from some members of the EPRDF.
Protests have also erupted in various towns in northern Ethiopia, where people have demanded the government not to cede the territories awarded to Eritrea.
But Ethiopia’s new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has defended his government’s decision and said troops would be withdrawn from the disputed territories in line with the agreement.
The dispute between the two countries sparked Africa’s deadliest border war in which tens of thousands of people were killed.
Since then, Ethiopia and Eritrea have been on a war footing and have had little diplomatic or trade relations.