The Debay Sima-Burre border crossing between Eritrea and Ethiopia reopened to road traffic on Tuesday, September 11. The Serha-Zalambessa border point is reportedly expected to be reopened later in the day. Details regarding crossings along the rest of the 1000-km (620-mi) border are currently unavailable. The decision to reopen the above two crossings was announced following the formal restoration of diplomatic ties between the two countries at a summit in Asmara on July 9.
On July 9, Ethiopian Prime Minister Ahmed Abiy and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki signed a "joint declaration of peace and friendship" at a summit in Asmara (Eritrea's capital), signaling a historic rapprochement between the two countries, and pledged to work toward increasing transnational cooperation. Promised changes included the reopening of embassies, access to ports, restoration of commercial flight connections, and implementation of the UN-brokered border agreement. Telecommunications between the two countries, blocked for over two decades, have already been reestablished.
A UN peacekeeping force has been deployed along the Ethiopia-Eritrea border since 1998, when a border conflict broke out between the two countries. Tens of thousands of people died during the 1998-2000 conflict. Although a peace treaty was signed in 2000, tensions have remained high at the border in the intervening years and periodic border clashes continued to occur.
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