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Intensive contacts to convene new Nile Basin meeting

Post-Revolution Egypt is engaged in a concerted effort to repair relations with Nile Basin countries, which had soured badly during the last months of the old regime

Ahram Online, Sunday 24 Apr 2011
Nile Basin
Blue Nile falls in Ethiopia
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Cairo is engaged in intensive contacts aimed at convening a meeting, or a series of meetings of the nine Nile Basin states, Egyptian diplomatic sources told Ahram Online. The meeting's objective is to try and overcome differences and reach a new agreement on water quotas, which is especially crucial for the twin down-river nations, Egypt and Sudan.

According to the diplomatic sources, a range of ideas are being discussed as to location and timing, with both the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, and Uganda's Entibe suggested as possible venues for the meeting.

Also being discussed is the level of the meeting, with suggestions including the convening of hydraulics experts meeting, to be followed by a meeting of irrigation and water projects ministers, or a joint meeting of both foreign minister and minister of irrigation.

These contacts come in the context of an emerging improvement in the climate of relations between Egypt and the other Nile Basin states, especially Ethiopia and Uganda following the 25 January Revolution. Egyptian-Nile Basin relations had entered into severe crisis following the signing of the new Entebbe framework agreement on Nile waters by six Basin states, not including either Egypt or Sudan.

The Cairo sources would not comment on whether the Entebbe accord will be open for review in the forthcoming meeting, stressing rather that focus will be on drawing up a roadmap to transcend differences, and maximise mutual benefits through the optimal utilization of the great river's waters. In doing so, the sources said, the Nile would be transformed into an element of cooperation and integration and not one of conflict.

Egypt has sought to capitalise as much as possible on the revolution in its attempt to turn over a new leaf in relations with Nile Basin countries. A delegation to Entebbe a few weeks ago included representatives of the Coalition of the Revolution Youth Movements, and so will a forthcoming delegation to Addis.

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