’BIRD OF PEACE’ COMPLETES FIRST ERITREA FLIGHT
JOHANNESBURG Hailed as “the bird of peace,” the first commercial flight from Ethiopia to former rival Eritrea landed on Wednesday as air links resumed after the swift and stunning end of a 20-year state of war.
Eritrea’s information minister announced the arrival of the Ethiopian Airlines flight in the capital, Asmara, to a warm red-carpet welcome with the flags of both nations displayed. “Astonishing!” Eritrea’s ambassador to Kenya and Tanzania, Beyene Russom, said on Twitter.
The hundreds of passengers included people seeking to reunite with family, as well as former Ethiopian prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn, who was embraced by Eritrea’s foreign minister on arrival. The dramatic diplomatic thaw in one of Africa’s longest conflicts began last month when Ethiopia’s reformist new prime minister fully accepted a peace deal that ended a 1998-2000 border war that killed thousands.