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Ethiopian army pledges to remove troops from occupied Eritrean territories when government gives order

PM Abiy introducing President Isaias to his government officials at the Addis Ababa airport  - July 14, 2018

Ethiopian, Eritrean Leaders Vow to Safeguard Peace Treaty

By Nizar Manek | Bloomberg

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said he would take action against those who may seek to block a peace declaration with Eritrea’s President Isaias Afwerki, as Ethiopia’s army awaits instructions on troop withdrawals from border areas.

Isaias said both nations would work together to safeguard the newfound peace that’s ended nearly two decades of frosty relations between the neighboring nations, state-run Ethiopian News Agency reported Sunday, citing speeches the night before.

The Eritrean leader flew into the airport in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, for a three-day visit on Saturday morning to a brass band and a red carpet welcome. He then joined a motorcade escorted by traditional horsemen and cruised to the national palace as thousands cheered waving Ethiopian and Eritrean flags.

His visit mirrors Abiy’s groundbreaking trip to neighboring Eritrea last weekend. The two countries -- at odds since a 1998-2000 border war that claimed as many as 100,000 lives -- sealed a swathe of agreements, restoring diplomatic relations, flights and telecommunications, as well as allowing Ethiopia’s use of Red Sea ports. The two leaders are scheduled to address an audience of about 25,000 people in Addis Ababa later Sunday.

The Ethiopian army pledged to move its troops stationed at areas bordering Eritrea, the Deputy Chief of Staff Berhanu Jula said. Berhanu attended June 26 peace talks with an Eritrean delegation that flew into Addis Ababa for the first round of peace talks.

“Moving military forces stationed in border areas in the Ethiopian regions of Afar and Tigray is not the decision of the military, but the government,” said Berhanu, who heads military operations. “If the government communicated with the Eritrean government and decided to remove the army from the border area, the army will remove them,” according to the state-owned newspaper Addis Zemen.

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