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Ethiopia PM vows not to harm Egypt’s share of Nile water

CAIRO (Xinhua) -- Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali vowed on Sunday that Ethiopia will not harm Egypt’s share of the Nile River water through the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).
His remarks came in a joint press conference in Cairo with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi following their talks on the giant dam that is currently being built on the Nile River.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi (right) shakes hands with visiting Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali in Cairo, Egypt, on Sunday.  --Photo Xinhua

“I swear to Allah that Ethiopia will not do any harm to Egypt’s water,” said the Ethiopian prime minister during his first visit to Cairo since he assumed office in April.
Upstream Nile Basin country Ethiopia and downstream Sudan eye massive benefits from the GERD construction, while downstream Egypt is concerned it might affect its 55.5-billion-cubic-meter annual share of the river water.
For his part, Sisi described Egypt’s relations with Ethiopia as “strategic,” promising to maintain cooperation with the Ethiopian side for the best interests of both nations.
“I would like to reiterate that the relation between Egypt and Ethiopia is a strategic partnership relation, and that Egypt’s strategic policy is to enhance common interests with Ethiopia in all fields,” the Egyptian president told the news conference.
Ali’s visit came three weeks after a breakthrough in the talks was seen during a nine-member trilateral ministerial meeting, held in Addis Ababa in mid-May, which comprised the ministers of foreign affairs, those of water resources and the heads of intelligence services of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan.
“The visit is important because it is the Ethiopian new premier’s first visit to Cairo and it will reveal his vision on the dam issue,” said Hani Raslan, head of Sudan and Nile Basin studies department at Cairo-based Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies.
During the meeting in Addis Ababa, the three states agreed to form a scientific study group for consultation on the reservoir construction and filling and to hold a summit among the three countries’ leaders every six months.
A similar ministerial meeting in April in the Sudanese capital Khartoum failed to reach an agreement over technical issues regarding the GERD, with Ethiopia and Sudan holding Egypt responsible for the talk failure and Egypt rejecting the blame and inviting for further talks in Cairo.
“The meetings of the ministerial committees are unable to make key breakthroughs without consensus at the level of political leaderships,” Raslan told Xinhua.
“I believe the visit is exploratory and it is meant to ensure previous understandings and create new ones,” the expert added, noting that Ethiopia has already completed 65 percent of the dam construction.
The GERD will be Africa’s largest dam upon completion with a total volume of 74 billion cubic meters and a construction cost of about US$4.7 billion. It is expected to produce around 6,000 megawatts of electricity for Ethiopia.
Egypt’s ties with Ethiopia have seen ups and downs since the latter started the dam project in April 2011 while Egypt was suffering turmoil following an uprising that toppled former President Hosni Mubarak.
When President Sisi took office in 2014, he showed understanding of Ethiopia’s aspiration for development through the new dam.
In March 2015, the leaders of Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan signed an initial cooperation deal on the principles of sharing the Nile River water and the construction of the GERD.
They also met in January in Addis Ababa on the sidelines of the 30th African Union summit and agreed to avoid misunderstandings by joint cooperation on common interests amid the GERD construction.


(Latest Update
June 12,
2018)


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