Eritrea president Isaias Afwerki on Sunday morning left the country for Ethiopia for a two-day summit with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali.
According to the Eritrean information minister, the president’s trip bordered on three areas: bilateral ties, the fight against COVID-19 and locust infestation as well as regional matters.
Accompanying the president are the Foreign Minister Osman Saleh and presidential advisor Yemane Ghebreab. Visits between the two neighbours have been regular in the past few years after a historic thawing of relations in 2018.
Bilateral relations have grown over the past two years even though analysts have asked that efforts at consolidation must be further strengthened. Relations boosters include resumption of flights, reopening of embassies, reestablishing of telephone lines amongst others.
On the subject of reopening of border crossings, they were held to much fanfare in 2018 and 2019 but have since been unilaterally closed by Eritrea. The handing over of the contentious town of Badme and demilitarization of the borders remain outstanding.
With respect to COVID-19, the two countries have relatively low infection rates in the East, Horn of Africa region. Whiles Ethiopia is leading calls for international debt relief and championing virus aid efforts, Eritrea is raising funds – home and abroad – from nationals to combat the pandemic.
The COVID-19 case file for each country as of May 3 (07:00 GMT) is as follows:
Ethiopia: Confirmed cases = 133. Recoveries = 69. Deaths = 3
Eritrea: Confirmed cases = 39. Recoveries = 26. Deaths = 0
The East Africa locust invasion has also impacted parts of the two countries as well as Djibouti, Somalia, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.
Afwerki and Abiy have exchanged bilateral visits since then, with the mooting of the idea of a new regional bloc on the cards. The two leaders along with the Somali counterpart Mohammed Abdullahi Farmaajo have also held trilateral summits in Asmara and Bahir Dar in the recent past.