Sep 17, 2018 08:21 Asia/Tehran

Leaders from Ethiopia and Eritrea signed a peace agreement during a summit in Saudi Arabia, yet another sign of warming ties between two nations that have face decades of war and unease.

Iran Press/Africa: Terms of the agreement signed by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki weren't immediately clear. Ethiopia's Foreign Ministry described it as a "seven-point agreement" while Eritrea offered no details.

Saudi authorities did not respond to specific questions about the accord, which earlier had been described as being a further endorsement of a historic deal reached between the two countries in July,Reuters reported.

"The peace deal resulted in restoration of normal relations between the countries, on the basis of the close bonds of geography, history and culture between the two nations and their peoples," Saudi Arabia said in a statement Sunday, calling the accord the "Jeddah Agreement."

"The kingdom of Saudi Arabia praised the leaders of Ethiopia and Eritrea for exercising leadership and courage to restore the brotherly relations between the two countries, thus forming the foundation for a new phase that will bring significant developments in the relations between the two nations in all fields," the statement added.

It was particularly surprising for Eritrea, a closed-off nation of five million people ruled by Isaias since 1993. Eritrea's system of compulsory conscription has led thousands of Eritreans to flee toward Europe, Israel and elsewhere. Ethiopia is home to 105 million people.

The signing ceremony Sunday in Saudi Arabia also served as a nod to the growing importance Gulf Arab nations put on East Africa amid the Saudi-led war in Yemen. The UAE, also believed to have played a part in talks between Ethiopia and Eritrea, has been building up a military presence in the Eritrean port city of Assab.

The strategic Bab al-Mandeb Strait, which sits off Eritrea and neighbouring Djibouti, links the Red Sea and the Suez Canal with the Gulf of Aden and ultimately the Indian Ocean. Dozens of commercial ships transit the route, some 16 kilometres wide at its narrowest point, every day.


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