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FILE PHOTO: Somalia's President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed attends the 30th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Heads of State and the Government of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia January 28, 2018. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

(reuters_tickers)

By Aaron Maasho

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - Somalia's president paid a rare visit to Eritrea on Saturday in a sign that Asmara is trying to use the opportunity created by a rapprochement with Ethiopia to improve its regional ties.

Eritrea's President Isaias Afwerki's decision to invite President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo marks a new chapter for the countries after years of sour relations.

Discussions will focus on "regional issues of interest to both countries," Eritrea's information ministry said.

Previous Somali administrations have accused Eritrea of supplying weapons to Islamist insurgents fighting the fragile government in Mogadishu.Eritrea has said the accusations were concocted by Ethiopia.

Eritrea and Ethiopia fought a border war between 1998 and 2000 during which tens of thousands died. The war was followed by a military stalemate but in April they signed a peace deal.

Asmara walked out of the East African bloc IGAD in 2007 in protest as Ethiopian forces entered Somalia to fight militants.

(Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg)

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Reuters