Eritrea and Ethiopia ‘open door of peace’ after first talks in 20 years

Eritrea's Foreign Minister Osman Sale, center-right, is welcomed by Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, center-left, upon the Eritrean delegation's arrival at the airport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Tuesday, June 26, 2018. The delegation of top officials from Eritrea arrived Tuesday for the first peace talks in 20 years and were welcomed at the airport by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, signifying the importance of their visit. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)
Updated 27 June 2018
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Eritrea and Ethiopia ‘open door of peace’ after first talks in 20 years

ADDIS ABABA: Long-time foes Eritrea and Ethiopia “opened the door of peace” on Tuesday after the first high-level visit from Asmara to Addis Ababa in nearly two decades, raising hopes for an end to one of Africa’s most intractable military stand-offs.
In a highly symbolic move, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said Ethiopian Airlines would restart flights to Eritrea for the first time since 1998 when conflict erupted between the two nations over their disputed border, with diplomatic relations broken off ever since.
Tuesday’s visit comes after Abiy said this month he would honor all the terms of a peace deal, suggesting he might be ready to settle the border dispute, a move welcomed by Eritrea.
“Today is a day of joy because two identical peoples and two generations have been separated throughout that period. But through struggles, we have opened the door of peace,” said Eritrean Foreign Minister Osman Saleh.
Abiy said he hoped the dispute would end with this generation and reiterated his willingness to accept the transfer of territory.
“There will be lands swapped between the two countries but that will not matter — there will not be a border between us as our relationship will strengthen,” he said at a state dinner with the Eritrean representatives.
“For Ethiopians who have longed for heading to Massawa (in Eritrea) for a stroll, I call on you to be ready as Ethiopian Airlines will start services there soon,” he said, without giving further details.
Earlier Olympic athletes, singers, actors and religious leaders joined Abiy at Addis Abiba airport to welcome Saleh and other top officials, who were presented with garlands of flowers.
The flags of both countries fluttered from lampposts in Addis Ababa along with a banner reading “Welcome!“
Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki had welcomed Ethiopia’s “positive messages” and decided to send the delegation that included his adviser Yemane Gebreab and his envoy to the African Union.
The border war killed some 80,000 people and the sides remain at odds over the status of the frontier town of Badme. The border remains militarised.
Abiy was at a rally hit by a grenade that killed two people on Saturday an attack that government-affiliated media blamed on opponents of reforms announced since he took office in April, including airline and telecoms privatizations and the rapprochement with Eritrea.
Eritrea and Ethiopia broke off diplomatic relations two decades ago, although Asmara has a permanent delegation in Addis Ababa representing it at the African Union, whose headquarters are in the Ethiopian capital.
No Eritrean representatives have been part of an official visit for talks with the Ethiopian government since at least 1998.


ASEAN may be forced to choose between US, China: Cambodia PM’s son

Updated 21 November 2018
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ASEAN may be forced to choose between US, China: Cambodia PM’s son

  • Cambodia has become an unlikely staging ground for geopolitical influence in Asia
  • The economic ripples of the trade spat between China and the US could destabilize global supply chain links in Southeast Asia

BANGKOK: Southeast Asian nations may soon have to “choose sides” between the US and China in their ongoing trade war, the political heir to Cambodia’s strongman ruler Hun Sen warned Wednesday in rare public comments.
Impoverished Cambodia has become an unlikely staging ground for geopolitical influence in Asia.
In recent years it has turned into a key China ally, heading off criticism of the superpower over its claims to disputed seas in exchange for billions of dollars in investment and loans.
While China has cozied up to Cambodia, the United States and the European Union have admonished Hun Sen, the nation’s ruler for 33 years, for his increasingly authoritarian rule.
In a rare speech outside of his country, his son, Hun Many warned the US-China trade spat may create lasting divisions in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
“Perhaps one day ASEAN would have to choose between US or China,” Hun Many said in Bangkok.
“How would we see the trade war spill or expanded in other areas? Surely it will pressure individual members of ASEAN or ASEAN as a whole to choose sides.”
The economic ripples of the trade spat between China and the US could destabilize global supply chain links in Southeast Asia, while a slump in Chinese spending would impact its trading partners.
Cambodia’s strongman Hun Sen has welcomed Chinese investment to pump-prime his country’s economy.
At the same time, he has accused the US of trying to foment revolution in Cambodia by supporting his critics.
Both the US and EU decried the July elections, which were held without a credible opposition and gave Hun Sen another term in power.
When asked which of the superpowers Cambodia would side with, the Australian-educated Hun Many demurred.
“At the end of the day, it depends on those who are involved to take a more responsible approach for their decisions that affects the entire world,” he said.
Earlier this week, Hun Sen swatted away concerns that Beijing will construct a naval base off the southwest coast of Cambodia, which would provide ready access to the disputed South China Sea.
Beijing claims most of the flashpoint area, infuriating the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Taiwan who all have competing claims to its islands and potentially resource-rich waters.
Hun Many, who described himself as a “proud son,” is widely believed to be in the running to one day replace his father.
His elder brother, Manit, is the head of a military intelligence unit while Manet, the oldest, was promoted in September to the chief of joint staff of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces as well as the commander of the infantry army headquarters.
But Many brushed aside the notion.
“It is way too soon to say that I am in the next generation of leaders,” he said.