Leaders of Ethiopia and Eritrea were on Sunday awarded the highest medal of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia during a summit in at which they signed a peace agreement.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki were hosted by Saudi King Salman in Jeddah. The event was held in the presence of the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
According to the PM’s chief of staff the medals were in recognition of the efforts of: “Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and H.E. President Isaias Afeworki for bringing peace between the two countries.”
The African Union Commission chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat was also expected to join the event but was not seen at the ceremony. The two had after the July 9 deal in Asmara been awarded gold medals in the United Arab Emirates by the Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Zayed – that event took place in July 2018.
UN spokesman Farhan Haq did not provide details ahead of the event but had earlier said the Ethiopian and Eritrean leaders would sign a “further agreement helping to cement the positive relations between them.”
Last Tuesday (September 11) on the occasion of the Ethiopian New year, Abiy and Afwerki reopened two land border crossing points for the first time in 20 years, clearing the way for trade between the two nations.
Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Eritrea’s President Isaias Afwerki signed a declaration of peace in July that formally ended two decades of hostility.
Eritrea gained its independence from Ethiopia in the early 1990s, and war broke out later that decade over a border dispute. A 2002 UN-backed boundary demarcation was meant to settle the dispute for good, but Ethiopia refused to abide by it.
A turnaround began in June when Abiy announced that Ethiopia would hand back to Eritrea the disputed areas including the flashpoint town of Badme where the first shots of the border war were fired.