Egypt's Sisi and Ethiopia's PM Desalegn stress need to overcome obstacles in GERD negotiations

Ahram Online , Thursday 18 Jan 2018

A handout picture released by the Egyptian Presidency shows Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (L) meeting with Ethiopia Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn at the Presidential Palace in the capital Cairo on January 18 (Photo: AFP)

Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and Ethiopia's Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn stressed during a meeting in Cairo on Thursday the necessity of overcoming any current obstacles in ongoing negotiations over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

The two leaders held a press conference after their meeting as part of the Ethiopian prime minister's first official visit to the country.

El-Sisi stressed his "extreme concern" over the lack of progress in the negotiations over the building of Ethiopia's massive dam, though he did express understanding of the developmental goals the East African country aims to achieve with the GERD.

"We don’t want any once sided decisions on the dam filling process," the Egyptian president affirmed.

El-Sisi also stressed that the GERD should not harm Egypt's interests or its share of Nile water in light of the brotherly relations between Egypt and Ethiopia.

Desalegn affirmed that both countries should work together on overcoming obstacles through wise and friendly dialogue, adding that "our destinies are common and bound by the River Nile, which represents a vein of life joining our nations."

The Ethiopian prime minister affirmed that the dam will not have any negative impact on Egypt; on the contrary, it will contribute to the development of all Nile Basin countries, especially Egypt and Sudan.

President El-Sisi said that Egypt's recent proposal to include the World Bank as a neutral mediator in GERD negotiations was aimed at overcoming the delays in technical negotiations and to reassure all involved countries.

The president said that the Egyptian proposal to include the World Bank is up to the brothers in Ethiopia and Sudan to study, adding that he has agreed with the Ethiopian PM on another vision in this regard, though he said he would not reveal the details at this time.

The Ethiopian PM said the Egyptian proposal "would be discussed on the level of the tripartite committee during their upcoming meeting."

"We stress the necessity of further studying the Egyptian proposal and carrying on cooperation in good faith and trust among our countries. I am confident that we will overcome these problems soon," Desalegn added.

El-Sisi and Desalegn also oversaw the signing of a number of MOU's between Egypt and Ethiopia on industrial cooperation, foreign affairs and diplomatic consultations.

On trade and economic relations, El-Sisi said that Egyptian investments in Ethiopia have reached $750 million, highlighting an Egyptian plan to build an industrial zone in the country. 

The Egyptian president also hailed the meeting of the High-Level Joint Commission between Egypt and Ethiopia, which was held for the first time on the level of the top political leaderships in both countries. 

Desalegn arrived in Cairo on Wednesday for a two-day visit to discuss with El-Sisi bilateral cooperation and the Ethiopian dam.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and his Ethiopian counterpart Workneh Gebeyehu held talks in Cairo on Wednesday ahead of the talks between El-Sisi and Desalegn.

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