Eritrea's leader visits Ethiopia as dramatic thaw continues

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Eritrea's longtime president has arrived in Ethiopia for his first visit in 22 years amid a dramatic diplomatic thaw between the once-bitter rivals.

Thousands have turned out in Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa, under tight security to welcome President Isaias Afwerki, whose visit is the latest step in ending a state of war.

Ethiopia's reformist new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed broke the ice last month by fully embracing a peace deal that ended a two-year border conflict, and he visited Eritrea last weekend for hugs and talks with Isaias.

Some excited Ethiopians have compared the restoration of relations with one of the world's most closed-off countries to the fall of the Berlin Wall. Telephone links have opened and the first scheduled Ethiopian Airlines flights to Eritrea begin Wednesday.