Egyptian President Fattah al-Sisi is welcomed by Ethiopian PM Desalegn upon arriving at the Bole International Airport in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa (Photo: Reuters)
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi arrived in Addis Ababa Monday afternoon from Khartoum on a two-day visit to the Ethiopian capital, the state-owned MENA news agency reported.
El-Sisi was received by Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.
El-Sisi will conduct bilateral talks with Ethiopian officials on Egyptian-Ethiopian relations and common interests, above all the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which since 2013 has been a source of tension and controversy between the countries.
The Egyptian leader will address the Ethiopian parliament during his visit, to ask for formal recognition of Egypt's right to its share in Nile River waters, in exchange for Cairo backing Addis Ababa's economic development project.
Earlier Monday, the Egyptian president as well the Sudanese president and Ethiopian prime minister signed a declaration of principles in Khartoum, in what is considered an important step to resolve a long-running dispute over GERD and Nile River water sharing arrangements among Nile Basin countries.
Despite the agreement's details not having been announced as yet, El-Sisi stated that the principles agreed upon include understandings on the dam's storage capacity and the technique of filling its main reservoir that would safeguard the interests of all three countries.
Nevertheless, the Egyptian president underlined Monday that a final agreement would only be signed after technical studies on the dam's impact have been completed.
The declaration of principles serves the interests of the three signatory countries, Mohamed Edris, Egyptian ambassador to Ethiopia — accompanying Sisi on his trip — told reporters.
He added that the agreement is the fruit of continuous and long efforts exerted by the three countries to put an end to a saga that got increasingly complicated over time.
Ethiopia's foreign minister, Tedros Adhanom, described the declaration of principles as a "new chapter" in relations between the three countries in a short statement on his official Facebook page Monday afternoon.
"Mutual benefit and win-win principles should be the bases of this new chapter, which in turn boosts trust and confidence between our three sisterly countries," Adhanom said.
In statements to Egyptian ONTV, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry praised the agreement of principles, saying it was defining the course of talks when it comes to GERD.
"For the first time, Ethiopia is committed to the international technical studies in regards to GERD," Shoukry said.
The Egyptian foreign minister also stressed there will be no military intervention in the dispute over Nile water shares. "Egypt contributed in the founding of African countries; it won't be an aggressor, not at any time," Shoukry said, referring to Egypt's role in the African independence movement in the 1960s.
For several years, Egypt has raised fears that Ethiopia's $4.2 billion GERD project would negatively affect its share of Nile waters.
The 6,000 Megawatt Ethiopian dam, set to be Africa's largest, is expected to be fully completed by 2017. Ethiopia has finished constructing at least 40 percent of the dam.