Ethiopian traditional dancers perform during the welcoming ceremony for Eritrea's President Isaias Afwerki, at the Bole international airport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia July 14, 2018. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri
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When the leaders of Ethiopia and Eritrea embraced in Asmara last month, vowing to end the 2-decade-old state of war between their two countries, it looked like a sudden breakthrough.The Ethiopian prime minister's chief of staff Fitsum Arega acknowledged meetings with UAE officials, but said the leaders of Ethiopia and Eritrea were responsible for ending the war.OPPORTUNITYThe UAE has enjoyed virtually unchallenged influence in Eritrea for at least a decade.Earlier this year, Hashimi met with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's predecessor Hailemariam Desalegn, in Ethiopia.Officials from the UAE affiliate of the Red Crescent society, Emirates Red Crescent, later visited Ethiopia to discuss aid projects with Abiy."Neither Ethiopia nor Eritrea benefit from a stalemate," he said on June 6, a day after his ruling coalition, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, announced it would implement a peace deal with Eritrea dating back to 2000 .Things finally began to change after the death of Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi in 2012 .Members of his ruling coalition began quietly discussing how to approach Isaias Afwerki in Eritrea.
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