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Eritrean Leader in First Visit to Somalia After Thaw

Eritrean Leader in First Visit to Somalia After Thaw

Friday, 14 December, 2018 - 09:45
Eritrea's President Isaias Afwerki (L) and Somalia's President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo reviewed an honour guard after the Eritrean leader arrived in Mogadishu to firm up bilateral ties | AFP
Cairo- Asharq Al-Awsat
Eritrea's President Isaias Afwerki arrived Thursday in Mogadishu, marking improved relations in his first visit to neighboring Somalia since he took office in 1993.

Isaias was welcomed at the airport by Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed.

Abdullahi’s office said in a statement the visit was meant to boost diplomatic relations and explore areas to cooperate in security and investment.

Isaias landed in Mogadishu and headed to the Somali president’s office, media reported. Security was tight in the capital, they said.

“President Isaias’s historic visit is part and parcel of the consultative Tripartite Summits of the Heads of State and Government of Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia,” Eritrean Information Minister Yemane Meskel said on Twitter.

Somalia and Eritrea, two poor nations ravaged by war, established diplomatic ties in July in the wake of Eritrea's landmark peace pact with Ethiopia, which became possible with new leadership in Addis Ababa.

Relations between Somalia and Eritrea grew tense more than 10 years ago because Mogadishu believed that Isaias's government supported the Shabaab Islamist militia, affiliated with Al-Qaeda and determined to bring down the government.

The Somali leader visited Asmara late in July to sign an agreement on bilateral relations, in a visit that was also the first since Eritrea became independent from Ethiopia in 1993. Isaias has been head of state ever since.

Isaias and Mohamed both went to northern Ethiopia in late November for talks in which leaders of all three Horn of Africa countries and former rivals discussed steps towards economic integration.

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