Eritrea responds to Ethiopia PM’s olive branch

Eritrea's President Isaias Afwerki listens as he meets with Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir during his official visit in Khartoum, Sudan June 11, 2015. (Reuters)
Updated 20 June 2018
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Eritrea responds to Ethiopia PM’s olive branch

  • Eritrea and Ethiopia remain bitter foes after a 1998-2000 conflict that drew comparisons to the First World War
  • Even after the end of the war, the border remains heavily militarised and disputed

ADDIS ABABA: Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki is dispatching a delegation to Addis Ababa for “constructive engagement” with arch-foe Ethiopia after peace overtures this month from its new Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, a senior Eritrean diplomat said on Wednesday.
Isais made the annoucement — a potentially significant breakthrough in one of Africa’s most protracted conflicts — earlier on Wednesday, Eritrea’s ambassador to Japan, Estifanos Afeworki, said on Twitter. He gave no further details.
Eritrean information minister Yemane Ghebremeskel did not respond to requests for comment.
Eritrea and Ethiopia remain bitter foes after a 1998-2000 conflict that drew comparisons to the First World War, with waves of conscripts forced to march through minefields toward Eritrean trenches, where they were cut down by machine gun fire.
Casuality figures are disputed in both countries although most estimates suggest 50,000 Ethiopian soldiers died, against 20,000 on the Eritrean side.
Even after the end of the war, the border remains heavily militarised and disputed, most notably the town of Badme which was part of Eritrea, according to a 2002 international arbitration ruling.
Since then, Addis has ignored the ruling and refused to pull out troops or officials, to the fury of Asmara.
However, Abiy, a 41-year-old former soldier who has embarked on a radical economic and political reform drive since taking over in March, stunned Ethiopians this month when he said Addis would honor all the terms of the settlement between the two countries, suggesting he was prepared to cede Badme.
In parliament this week, Abiy also acknoewledged the tensions continued to inflict a heavy economic cost on both countries and said Addis should no longer hide this price tag from the Ethiopian people, another stunning departure with the past.
There has so far been no official response to Abiy’s overtures from Eritrea, one of the Africa’s most closed states.


Pence quashes Trump rift reports

Updated 17 November 2018
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Pence quashes Trump rift reports

  • Pence told reporters in Port Moresby that they had still had a good rapport, despite a previous report from The New York Times
  • The New York Times said Trump has taken to asking several advisers whether the vice president is loyal

PORT MORESBY: US Vice President Mike Pence on Saturday dismissed reports of a rift with his boss President Donald Trump, saying the pair laughed about the suggestion in a phone call.
Following a New York Times report that suggested Trump was privately questioning the loyalty of his deputy, Pence told reporters in Port Moresby that they had still had a good rapport.
“I’m just tempted not to dignified it with a comment,” he said after a pause, adding that the pair had spoken by phone and “it came up.”
“We had a good laugh,” said Pence. “We’ve got a very strong relationship.”
“I’ve been honored to serve as his vice president, I was honored when he asked me to run with him.”
The New York Times said Trump has taken to asking several advisers whether the vice president is loyal — which they say is usually a sign he has “grown irritated” with someone, according to the paper.
Trump has not openly suggested dropping Pence from the ticket with the 2020 presidential election rapidly approaching, the New York Times stressed.
But according to the paper, some advisers have suggested Trump could benefit from a running mate who would help him win support from women.