New York – Jeddah – Ali Barada and Asharq Al-Awsat
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz will host a summit between Ethiopia and Eritrea in Jeddah Sunday to sign a peace agreement ending the war that has lasted for over 20 years.
Through its diplomatic efforts, Saudi Arabia has contributed to striking this historic agreement, which strengthens relations between the two former enemies in the Horn of Africa.
King Salman invited UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to attend the signing ceremony, which is also due to be attended by African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat, according to UN sources.
UN spokesman Farhan Haq affirmed to Asharq Al-Awsat that Guterres and Mahamat were going to attend the ceremony.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki are expected to arrive in Jeddah Sunday morning after which King Salman will hold a luncheon on the occasion.
The Ethiopian PM and the Eritrean president signed a peace declaration in July, formally ending two decades of hostility between the two countries.
On Tuesday, the two states reopened border crossings for the first time in 20 years, paving way for trade between them.
Eritrea gained independence from Ethiopia in the early 1990s. From 1998 till 2000, they fought a war that killed some 80,000 people, but the two countries resumed a new era of relations shortly after Abiy announced his country’s acceptance of the Algiers peace agreement that ended the bloody conflict.
The Algiers Agreement 2000 indicated the parties shall permanently terminate military hostilities between themselves, and that each party shall refrain from the threat or use of force against the other. A commission of international judges was formed to demarcate the border, however, Ethiopian authorities only accepted the commission few months after Abiy took office.
In June, Abiy announced that Ethiopia would hand back to Eritrea the disputed areas including the town of Badme where the first shots of the border war were fired.
After signing the peace treaty, the presidents of Ethiopia and Eritrea separately visited Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and issued a joint statement praising the role of Riyadh and Abu Dhabi in ending the war and bringing stability to the region.