Ethiopian PM visits strategic Eritrean ports

By Addis Getachew

ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopia (AA) – After a successful diplomatic thaw between former foes Ethiopia and Eritrea in July, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Wednesday arrived in the Eritrean port city of Assab.

He was welcomed by Eritrea's President Isaias Afeworki.

The Port of Assab is located strategically along world's busiest maritime strait on the Red Sea; but for the past two decades, the port's activities were down as it lost its major market, Ethiopia — a country of more than 100 million people.

On July 9, the two countries agreed that the two ports of Massawa and Asab would be opened for Ethiopia’s shipments at cheaper rates.

An Ethiopian vessel was on its way to the port of Massawa and it was expected to dock today.

Later on the day, the Ahmed is set to visit the Port of Massawa as well.

Eritrea seceded from Ethiopia in 1993.

A two-year bloody war was fought between the two countries from 1998 to 2000 which killed an estimated 70,000 people on both sides.

Relations between the two countries dramatically improved after affable and reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came to power on April 2.

Although Ethiopia became a landlocked nation after Eritrea's secession in 1993, the country has been operating cargo vessels under the Shipping Lines Enterprise.

The Ethiopian vessel docking at the port of Massawa on Wednesday is expected to set sail for China, carrying some 11,000 tons of Eritrean Zinc.