Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi discussed the latest developments concerning the decade-long standoff caused by the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) with his Congolese Counterpart Félix Tshisekedi during a meeting held at Cairo's Ittihadiya Presidential palace on Tuesday.
The meeting comes days before the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) assumes the presidency of the African Union (AU), the current mediator of the on-off GERD negotiations, succeeding South Africa.
According to a statement released by the Egyptian presidency, both leaders agreed to reinforce the joint coordination and cooperation to follow up on the developments of the long-running dispute.
President El-Sisi affirmed the importance of reaching a legally binding agreement over the rules of filling and operating the Ethiopian dam, the statement added.
The AU has been mediating the talks between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia over the dispute caused by GERD since last year.
Negotiations mediated by South Africa, the incumbent president of the AU, over the GERD have been put on hold due to Khartoum's desire to grant a bigger role to the experts involved in the AU-mediated talks instead of holding direct discussions among the three nations. Ethiopia, in addition to Egypt, refuse Sudan's demand.
During the meeting, President Tshisekedi voiced out his country's keenness in benefiting from the Egyptian efforts, expertise and vision in leading the AU amid what he described as "the flaring and successive challenges" facing Africa, in general, and the Nile Basin and in particular, the Horn of Africa.
"The matter urges intensifying cooperation and coordination with Egypt and its leadership on the back of the pivotal [significant role] Egypt represents in the region and the entire continent in terms of maintaining peace and security," the statement quoted the Congolese president as saying.
The AU presidency is to be transferred from the South African President Cyril Ramaphosa to President Tshisekedi during the upcoming African summit slated for 6-7 February in Ethiopia, according to the summit's agenda released by the union.
Promoting Egyptian-Congolese ties
The pair also held expanded bilateral discussions to discuss strengthening bilateral relations in all fields, in the presence of delegations from both countries, the statement added.
El-Sisi, expressed, during the meeting, Egypt's eagerness to develop ties and consolidate strategic cooperation in various fields with Congo to establish sustainable partnership, the statement added.
The president also praised the bilateral relation with Congo on political, economic, security and cultural levels, as well as the "growing” cooperation in the field of building people's capabilities in light of Egypt's keenness to invest in human resources throughout Africa.
He stressed the importance of developing bilateral cooperation projects, especially in regards to strengthening Egyptian trade exchange and investments in various fields.
The Congolese president expressed his country's keenness in promoting ties with Egypt in various fields, foremost of which are trade and economic cooperation to match the "deep and distinct" political relations between the two countries.
He also hailed the Egyptian companies working in DRC and in the sectors of construction, energy and infrastructure, expressing his aspiration for increasing Egyptian investments in his country.