by Martin Plaut
ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - Ethiopia’s prime minister will meet the Eritrean president soon as the once-warring nations try to resolve one of Africa’s most intractable military stand-offs, Ethiopian state-affiliated media said, citing the foreign minister.
A high-level Eritrean delegation arrived in the Ethiopian capital city Addis Ababa on Tuesday for the first time since the two countries fought between 1998 and 2000 over their disputed border, with diplomatic relations broken off ever since.
Ethiopian leader Abiy Ahmed said this month he would honor all the terms of a peace deal, suggesting he might be ready to settle the border dispute.
After Tuesday’s meeting, Eritrean Foreign Minister Osman Saleh said the former foes “have opened the door of peace” whilst Abiy said he hoped the dispute would end with this generation and reiterated his willingness to transfer territory.
Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki had welcomed Ethiopia’s “positive messages” earlier this month and decided to send the delegation, which included his adviser Yemane Gebreab and his envoy to the African Union. They returned on Thursday.
The border war between the long-time foes killed some 80,000 people and the sides remain at odds over the status of the frontier town of Badme. The border remains militarized.
Abiy has sent a letter to President Isaias, Ethiopia’s Fana media said, without detailing the content.