September 7, 2018 / 7:31 AM / 17 days ago

Djibouti, Eritrea agree to normalise ties strained since 2008

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - Eritrea and Djibouti have agreed to normalise ties a decade after a border dispute led to brief military clashes, officials said on Thursday after a regional summit.

Djibouti's President Ismail Omar Guelleh addresses a news conference at the National Palace during his official visit to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, March 17, 2017. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

Fighting erupted along the disputed Dumeira area after Djibouti accused Asmara of sending troops across the border. The Red Sea neighbours have been at odds ever since.

“After a long period of separation, Eritrea and Djibouti have agreed to restore ties,” Ethiopia’s Foreign Minister Workneh Gebeyehu said on his Facebook page.

He spoke after delegations from Ethiopia, Somalia and Eritrea met in Djibouti, where they also held discussions with President Ismail Guelleh.

On Twitter, Eritrea’s Information Minister Yemane Gebremeskal said Guelleh told the ministers: “Djibouti is ready for reconciliation and formalisation of its ties with Eritrea.”

The rapproachment follows the dramatic thaw in relations between Ethiopia and Eritrea, which declared an end to their state of war in July and agreed to open embassies, develop ports and resume flights between the two countries after decades of hostilities.

Eritrea has been subjected to a U.N. arms embargo since 2009 over allegations that it provided support to militants in Somalia and for failing to pull troops out of disputed territory with Djibouti. Asmara denies accusations it backed Somali insurgents.

Djibouti’s Foreign Minister Mahmoud Ali Youssouf said: “With the truthful willingness demonstrated by Eritrea and Djibouti to make peace, all other pending issues will find their way to resolution.”

Meanwhile, Ethiopia reopened its embassy in the Eritrean capital Asmara on Thursday.

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who has presided over widespread reforms since his appointment in April, had earlier met Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki for his second face-to-face meeting since the July accord.

A day earlier, an Ethiopian ship docked in an Eritrean port for the first time in two decades and Eritrea announced plans to upgrade a road to its neighbour.

Editing by Janet Lawrence

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