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.


Germany arrests woman accused of Daesh membership

Updated 43 min 51 sec ago
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Germany arrests woman accused of Daesh membership

BERLIN: German police have arrested a 20-year-old woman on suspicion of serving in the Daesh group.
Federal prosecutors said Friday the German-Algerian woman, identified as Sarah O. for privacy reasons, is accused of membership in a foreign terrorist organization.
Prosecutors say she traveled to Syria as a teenager in October 2013, where she received firearms training and married an Daesh fighter from Germany in 2014.
German authorities say she and her husband conducted “guard and police duties” in Daesh-controlled areas. She is also alleged to have tried to recruit others in Europe to join Daesh and, together with her husband, received about $118 a month from the group.
Prosecutors’ spokeswoman Frauke Koehler said the woman’s children were taken into care upon their arrival at Duesseldorf airport from Turkey on Friday.