PM phones Ethiopia’s Ahmed to congratulate him on Nobel Peace Prize win
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PM phones Ethiopia’s Ahmed to congratulate him on Nobel Peace Prize win

Netanyahu’s office says counterpart invited him to visit Addis Ababa; Blue and White’s Gantz says he hopes Ethiopian leader will inspire others around the world

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) shakes hands with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in Jerusalem on September 1, 2019. (Amos Ben Gershom/PMO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) shakes hands with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in Jerusalem on September 1, 2019. (Amos Ben Gershom/PMO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called his Ethiopian counterpart Abiy Ahmed on Tuesday to congratulate him on winning the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize.

According to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office, “the Ethiopian Prime Minister told Prime Minister Netanyahu that he was impressed by his visit to Israel [last month] and that he admires the developments that have taken place in Israel in recent years.”

Additionally, “Ethiopian Prime Minister Ahmed invited Prime Minister Netanyahu to make an official visit to Ethiopia,” the PMO statement said.

Ahmed was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday in recognition of his efforts to end his country’s long-running border conflict with Eritrea.

The Norwegian Nobel Institute also praised the “important reforms” that Abiy, Ethiopia’s leader since April 2018, has launched at home.

Chairwoman Berit Reiss-Andersen said some people may consider it too early to give him the prize, but “it is now that Abiy Ahmed’s efforts need recognition and deserve encouragement.”

In this file photo taken on September 15, 2019, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed gestures after receiving a horse as a gift from the elders of the Kafficho ethnic group during a visit to Bonga, the main town in Kaffa province, in southwestern Ethiopia. (Michael Tewlede/AFP)

Last week, Blue and White chairman Benny Gantz tweeted his own congratulations to Ahmed.

“PM Abiy put an end to decades of war between Ethiopia and Eritrea and strengthened his country’s democracy. I hope his courageous acts will inspire leaders around the world to follow suit,” Gantz wrote.

Abiy, 43, took office after widespread protests pressured the longtime ruling coalition and hurt one of the world’s fastest growing economies. Africa’s youngest leader quickly announced dramatic reforms and “Abiymania” began.

In a move that caused surprise in the long-turbulent Horn of Africa region, he said Ethiopia would accept a peace agreement with Eritrea, ending one of Africa’s longest-running conflicts.

Within weeks, Eritrea’s longtime leader, visibly moved, visited Addis Ababa and communications and transport links were restored. For the first time in two decades people could, long-divided families made tearful reunions.

The improving relations led to the lifting of United Nations sanctions on Eritrea, one of the world’s most reclusive nations. But Ethiopia’s reforms appear not to have inspired any in Eritrea, which has since closed border posts with its neighbor.

AP contributed to this report.

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