ADDIS ABABA – The government of Eritrea has agreed to withdraw its forces out of the Ethiopian border following a discussion between the leaders of the two countries on Friday.
“In our March 26, 2021 discussions with President Isaias Afwerki during my visit to Asmara, the government of Eritrea has agreed to withdraw its forces out of the Ethiopian border,” said prime minister Abiy Ahmed.
The Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) will take over “guarding the border areas effective immediately”, he added.
On Tuesday, the Prime Minister told Members of Parliament that Eritrean advanced into the Ethiopian territory fearing they would be attacked by forces of Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
The conflict began on Nov 4 last year after forces of TPLF, the former ruling party of Tigray, carried out a deadly attack on federal army bases there prompting the federal government to act.
“Attacking the Northern Command where the nation’s largest weapons depot was stationed and mercilessly killing and kidnapping members of the ENDF have drawn the federal government into a military engagement it has been provoked into,” the PM reasoned.
The TPLF forces also fired rockets into Eritrea’s capital Asmara, thereby provoking the Eritrean government to cross Ethiopian borders and prevent further attacks and maintain its national security, according to the PM office’s statement.
The statement issued on the second day of the PM’s visit to Asmara.
Apart from withdrawing troops, the two leaders agreed to strengthen their bilateral relations and economic cooperation ambitions.
“We will continue building on the spirit of trust and good neighborliness between our two countries as embarked upon in 2018,” he said.
The effort, Abiy said, will particularly focus on restoring trust-based people-to-people relations among the citizens in Tigray and fellow Eritreans across the border, which he called “is essential”.