Asmara (Eritrea), July 10: Even as the world remained engrossed with the peace talks over the Korean Peninsula, a significant development took place in Africa where two old enemies - Ethiopia and Eritrea - declared that their "state of war" did not exist any more.
The declaration to end a two-decade old conflict which has only exhausted the economy of two of the oldest poorest countries in the Horn of Africa came after the leaders of the two neighbours met each other in the Eritrean capital.
The historic agreement made by the leaders -- Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed -- also pledged opening of embassies, resumption of air connectivity and development of ports which will particularly help the economy of land-locked Ethiopia - a populous and poor state with lot of economic potential.
The sudden peace initiative put an end to a war which started in 1998 over border disputes and continued to bleed both nations with little changes as a result. Finally, the Joint Declaration of Peace and Friendship was signed on Monday, July 9, a day after the leaders of the two countries met over a historic summit for the normalisation of relations.
Eritrean Information Minister Yemane Gebremeskel quoted from the declaration that "a new era of peace and friendship has been ushered (in)", reports said.
He also said on Twitter on Monday that the agreement, signed by Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed at Asmara's State House, specified five pillars. The minister also wrote that the "state of war" between the two neighbours in the Horn of Africa came to an end.
PM Abiy reached Asmara on Sunday, July 8, and was given a warm welcome at the airport by President Isaias. The two leaders were later cheered by thousands of Eritreans who crowded the streets to greet them.
At the dinner hosted on Sunday, Abiy said the agreement will see the two countries re-setting diplomatic, trade and communication ties and re-opening of borders. Phone connections were also to see resumption, the Ethiopian foreign ministry said. It was also claimed that the people-to-people contact between the two countries will be strengthened.
Abiy, the reformist prime minister of Ethiopia who took over in April, surprised the world by accepting the Algiers Agreement signed between the two countries in 2000 to end the war between the two neighbours.
Abiy also made the headlines for taking measures like lifting emergency at home.
That the Eritrean leadership was also open to the idea was evident when a high-level delegation led by Eritrean Foreign Minister Osman Saleh went to Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa in June for peace talks.
Ethiopia had earlier rejected a UN provision and refused to cede Eritrea, which broke away from Ethiopia as an independent nation in 1993, land along the border after the 1998-2000 war which saw nearly a lakh people dead.