New envoy to Italy named

Eritrea and Italy have named their new ambassadors to each other's countries following a period of tense relations between the two nations.

According to Eritrea's official Shaebia website, the new Eritrean envoy to Italy is Andemichael Kahsai. His Italian counterpart was named as Emmanuelle Pignatelli.

In June, Eritrean President Isayas Afewerki went to Rome where he met Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi for talks on normalising relations.

It was the first time the two men had met since the former Italian ambassador, Antonio Bandini, was asked to leave Eritrea after he protested against the government's detention of dissident politicians in September 2001. Bandini was also the representative of the European Union in Eritrea.

Immediately after the expulsion, Eritrea’s ambassador to Italy was asked to leave Rome. The row intensified after EU diplomats in Eritrea were recalled by their governments for "consultations" on the situation.

Before last year’s breakdown in diplomatic relations between the two countries, Italy was Eritrea’s largest donor.

The newly-appointed ambassadors will assume their functions shortly, the Eritrean foreign ministry said.