During his two day visit to Ethiopia, Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki on Thursday promised to boost cooperation with Ethiopia.

On Wednesday, Isaias flew to Addis Ababa for his first meeting with the Ethiopian Prime Minister since Abiy Ahmed won the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize for initiating a thaw between the countries which fought a border war in 1998-2000.

Earlier on Thursday, Isaias expressed gratitude for the hospitality accorded to his delegation during the visit.

According to a tweet by Eritrea’s communications minister, Yemane Meskel, “Isaias pledged to work with “vigour to recoup lost opportunities by three generations to bolster (a) new chapter of cooperation between the two countries”.

After the two leaders first met and embraced on the tarmac in Asmara, the Eritrean capital, last year, they reopened embassies, resumed flights and held a series of meetings across the region.

But the initial optimism fuelled by these gestures faded, and citizens of both countries complain that they are still waiting for meaningful change.

Earlier this month, during the Nobel award ceremony in Oslo, Norwegian Nobel committee chairwoman Berit Reiss-Andersen noted that the peace process “seems to be at a standstill”, with border crossings closed and little apparent progress on border demarcation efforts.

This visit was the first time the two leaders have met in person since July.

Eritrea is one of the most repressive countries in the world and government critics were swift to register their disgust.

Since PM Ahmed signed the peace deal with President Afwerki, relations between the two countries have deteriorated. The land border is once again closed and there are few signs that the peace agreement is leading to real benefits for communities on either side of the border.

(With inputs from AFP)