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Egypt denies requesting Israeli mediation in Ethiopian dam issue

Some Egyptian media have reported that foreign minister Sameh Shoukry’s recent visit to Israel involved discussions on Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance Dam

Ahram Online , Monday 1 Aug 2016
GERD
File Photo: Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam (Photo: Reuters)
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Egypt denied on Monday rumours that it had requested Israeli mediation on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) issue.

In press statements carried by Egypt's state-owned MENA agency, foreign ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid said that recent discussions held by foreign minister Sameh Shoukry and Israeli officials focused only on finding ways to solve the Palestinian crisis, as well as other bilateral issues.

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, a giant hydroelectric dam project being undertaken by Ethiopia, has been the source of contention between Cairo and Addis Ababa.

Egypt, which relies almost exclusively on the Nile for farming and drinking water, fears the dam would significantly diminish its share of the river's water.

Several media outlets have suggested that Shoukry's July visit to Israel was related to the dam issue, especially in light of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamen Netanyahu’s recent trip to several African countries, including Ethiopia. 

Israel launched a $13-million aid package to strengthen economic ties and cooperation with African countries, including Ethiopia, with a pledge to also provide certain African states with training in "domestic security."

Abu Zeid stressed that the current trilateral framework between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan was guaranteed to accomplish the interests of the three countries. He added that the declaration of principles signed in March between the involved parties in Sudan was the ruling framework for the tripartite relationship.

A sixth summit on the "presidential level" between Egypt and Ethiopia will be held in the coming months, according to Ethiopia's ambassador to Cairo.

He added that the summit would be hosted by Egypt, yet declined to mention when precisely it would take place.

Although Egypt has repeatedly expressed concern over the dam's possible effect on the country, Ethiopia insists it will not negatively affect the North African country’s share of Nile water.

In December 2015, Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi addressed the public and said that there is no reason to worry about the dam and that the matter would be resolved.

"I totally understand the concern of Egyptians as water is a matter of life or death," El-Sisi added.

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