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EU's Ashton to visit Egypt Tuesday to discuss Ethiopia dam row

Catherine Ashton expected in Egypt Tuesday to discuss Ethiopia dam row and Syria crisis with President Morsi, FM Mohamed Kamel Amr and handful of opposition figures

Ahram Online, Monday 17 Jun 2013
File photo: European High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton at the end of an EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels (Photo: Reuters)
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European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton will visit Cairo on Tuesday to meet with President Mohamed Morsi and Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr.

According to EU Ambassador to Egypt James Moran, Ashton's trip aims to "calm tensions and re-open channels of communication between Egypt and Ethiopia."

Ashton wants to hear the Egyptian perspective in hopes of offering a solution that might settle ongoing tensions between Cairo and Addis Ababa over the latter's Grand Renaissance Dam project, official Egyptian news agency MENA reported.

On Sunday, Amr travelled to Addis Ababa to discuss the issue with Ethiopian officials.

While in Egypt, Ashton is expected to discuss other key regional developments with her Egyptian interlocutors, including the ongoing Syria crisis.

She is also scheduled to meet with several Egyptian opposition figures with whom she will discuss the country's ongoing democratic transition.

Moran pointed out that the EU supports Egypt's transition to democracy, stressing the importance of national reconciliation.

Egypt is expected to witness nationwide anti-government protests on 30 June to demand the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi and snap presidential elections.

While in Egypt, Ashton will discuss the importance of Egypt's role in resolving the Syria crisis, according to Moran.

"The United States, Russia, and other countries are exerting efforts, but they cannot achieve a political settlement in Syria without the Egyptian role," Moran asserted.

In April, President Morsi met Ashton at his office in Cairo. According to Egyptian officials who spoke to Ahram Online, the meeting did not go smoothly.

"It was not exactly tough either," said one presidential official on condition of anonymity. "Ashton raised concerns in regards to Egypt's human rights record and the current state of political polarisation." 

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