The head of the World Council of Churches has welcomed a joint declaration issued by the leaders of Ethiopia and Eritrea on Monday in which they declared an official end to the war between the two nations.

Leaders of the two nations made the announcement following a two day summit between Ethiopia's new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki in the Eritrean capital of Asmara.

It follows an announcement by Ethiopia last month that it would fully implement a peace deal previously reached with Eritrea. At least 70,000 people are believed to have been killed in the war between the two nations which was fought between 1998 and 2000. 

Rev Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the WCC, said he was "very encouraged" by the agreement which "carries with it great hope for communities and families who have waited for so long for justice and peace."

"We stand by you as you continue your daily lives with this new sense of hope.”

Rev Dr Tveit added that while the WCC observed "with great joy this moment of peace", they also paused to "mourn the lives of the tens of thousands of people who have been killed in the conflict".

“We pray peace will not only be in the news headlines but also bear out in the daily lives of people as they face a new future. We encourage the churches to be engaged in the implementation of the peace process.”