ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres will meet Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Monday, a day after he agreed with neighbor Eritrea to end a near 20-year military standoff, U.N. sources in Addis Ababa said.
Abiy and his Eritrean counterpart Isaias Afwerki announced on Sunday they were ditching the “no war, no peace” status quo in favor of “love” and peace – a development that could transform the Horn of Africa region, ending decades of animosity during which both countries remained isolated and dominated by their security forces.
Abiy is believed to still be in the Eritrean capital Asmara, fleshing out details of the deal which includes the re-establishment of air and telephone links and an agreement for landlocked Ethiopia to use Eritrea’s Red Sea ports.
His meeting with Guterres is due to take place in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on Monday evening, the sources said.
The rapid progress from enemies — the neighbors cut ties when they went to war in 1998 — to partners is the product of an unexpected peace initiative by Abiy, a 41-year-old former intelligence officer who took office in April.
Eritrean Information Minister Yemane Gebremeskel tweeted on Monday that the atmosphere at a state dinner on Sunday night was “mesmerizing”.
He quoted Isaias as saying: “The tumultuous welcome accorded to Prime Minister Abiy underscores how much the people of Eritrea cherish peace.
“Plaudits for Dr. Abiy for the bold political choice he has taken that will recoup lost time and opportunity in the past 20 years … We are with you.”