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Ethiopia's Abiy says he wants to quickly roll out Eritrea deal

The prime minister's comments come as Ethiopian Airlines announces it will resume flights to Eritrea on July 18.

Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has said his government wants to implement a deal restoring relations with Eritrea quickly to "make up for lost opportunities" after a two-decade military standoff.

Abiy signed an agreement with Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki on Monday, formally declaring that the "state of war" between the neighbouring countries was over.

"My government is keen to implement the terms we laid out in our Joint Declaration so as to quickly make up for lost opportunities and create even better ones for our people", Abiy said in a letter to Isaias that was posted on Twitter by Abiy's chief of staff on Tuesday.

Also on Tuesday, Ethiopian Airlines said in a statement that the first passenger flight between Ethiopia and Eritrea would take place on July 18.

The African aviation giant said it would initially operate a once-a-day return flight between Addis Ababa and Asmara, but planned "very quickly" to operate multiple passenger and cargo flights daily.

"With the opening of a new chapter of peace and friendship between the two sisterly countries, we look forward to starting flights to Asmara with the B787," said chief executive officer Tewolde GebreMariam.

"The resumption of air links will play a critical role in boosting the overall political, economic, trade and people-to-people ties between the two sisterly countries."

An initial statement said the first flights between the two countries would take place on July 17, but this was later pushed back to July 18.

The developments come after a landmark visit to Eritrea by Abiy on Sunday. During the trip, he announced that diplomatic, trade, transport and communications ties would be re-established and borders re-opened. The trip came about a month after Abiy surprised many by fully accepting the 2000 peace agreement that was never implemented. 

The Horn of Africa nations had remained at loggerheads since Ethiopia rejected a United Nations ruling and refused to cede to Eritrea land along the countries' border following a 1998-2000 war that killed 80,000 people.


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