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Egypt's foreign ministry discusses Ethiopia dam developments, ties with Europe

The foreign ministry's spokesman talked to reporters about Ethiopia's controversial dam project, regional issues and ties with Europe

Ahram Online , Wednesday 8 Jun 2016
Renaissance Dam
File photo of the construction of Ethiopia's Renaissance Dam (Ahram)
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Egypt said studies currently being conducted on the hydrological and environmental impacts of Ethiopia's controversial Renaissance dam on downstream countries will be decisive in determining the dam's effect on the country, as Addis Ababa continues with its construction.

Foreign ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid told reporters Wednesday that the manner in which mega hydropower project is operated will show whether it poses any risk to downstream countries, including Egypt

He said that a French consultancy firm will evaluate the "dam's system of operation, water storage and period of storage".

"It is difficult to predict how the ongoing negotiations [with Ethiopia] will end," Abu Zeid said, adding that the talks aim to serve the interest of Ethiopia in its ambitions for hydropower generation as well as ensure Egypt's national security.

Abu Zeid also tackled Cairo's ties with Europe during Wednesday's meeting with local diplomatic reporters.

According to state news agency MENA, he said that Egypt's relations with Italy have seen "relative calm recently" after the torture and murder of Italian graduate student Giulio Regeni in Cairo strained ties between the two otherwise close nations.

Rome, he says, has decided to name a new envoy to Cairo as the investigation into Regeni's case continues.

Italy recalled its ambassador to Egypt in April after saying that Egyptian investigators had failed to provide satisfactory answers regarding Regeni's murder.

Egypt denied that its security apparatuses had a hand in the murder. 

Abu Zeid also said that Egypt and France are pressing on with joint efforts to identify the location of the twin black box recorders of the EgyptAir flight that crashed into the Mediterranean last month.

On Russia, he described relations with Moscow as "strong and strategic," saying that technical teams from Russia were inspecting Egyptian Airports in preparation for resuming flights to Egypt. Russian flights were suspended late last year following the October 2015 crash of a Russian passenger plane that killed all 224 people on board.

Palestine and Libya

The spokesman also said that although the peace conference held in Paris earlier this month had not lived up to the hopes of Palestinians, it has succeeded in putting “international spotlight" on the Palestinian issue.

The global gathering emphasised the "importance of a two-state solution and the need for direct negotiations" between the Palestinians and the Israelis, Abu Zeid said.

He added that Egypt was pressing on with its efforts to promote a "just, comprehensive" solution for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict with the help of Arab allies or through its stint at the UN Security Council.

On the civil conflict in Libya, Abu Zeid said the situation in Egypt's western neighbour was posing a threat to Cairo, adding that backing Libya’s unity government is necessary to combat terrorism in Libya and stop the resulting flow of migrants to Europe.

He said that Cairo was throwing its weight behind demands by Libya's new unity government that a UN arms embargo be lifted to help take control of the chaos-stricken country.

On the proposed creation of a pan-Arab military force, first proposed in early 2015, Abu Zeid said that Arab countries were still considering the formation of the force to counter growing security threats in the region.

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