Relations have improved since El-Sisi came to power: Ethiopian PM

Ahram Online , Thursday 29 Jan 2015

Ethiopian premier reiterates his country's commitment to Egypt's Nile share, as it continues building its controversial Grand Renaissance Dam

Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn
Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn (Photo: Reuters)

Ethiopia has realised that the new Egyptian leader is a man of change, understanding and engagement, the Ethiopian prime minister has said.

In an interview given to the Egyptian private television channel Tahrir, Ethiopian Premier Hailemariam Desalegn said the bilateral relations have improved since President Abdel-Fatah El-Sisi came to power.

"[El-Sisi] has an exceptional character… and [is] a man of state," Desalegn said in the interview aired on Wednesday.

El-Sisi travelled on Thursday to Addis Ababa for a three-day visit to attend the African Summit, his first since he became president. He will be leading the Egyptian delegation at the summit, which starts on Friday.

Egyptian-Ethiopian relations have been tense in recent years since Cairo raised concerns about the impact of Ethiopia’s project to build the Grand Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile, as it may affect Egypt’s water supply.

Ethiopia has repeatedly said that Egypt, a downstream country, will not be negatively affected by the dam.

Both countries, along with Sudan that is also downstream, have agreed to commission a new report by an international consultancy firm on the probable effects of the dam.

"Egypt and Ethiopia will either swim together or drown together," Desalegn said. "This is a shared destiny… I think this is an important historic time for Egypt and Ethiopia."

The Ethiopian official said the previous, more hostile strategy followed by former presidents Mohamed Morsi and Hosni Mubarak "was not going to work".

"The Nile is a gift from God for all of us and we have to use this gift in a legal, reasonable way, so that Ethiopia develops and the Egyptian people get their safe portion of water," he said. "We have no reason to make the Egyptians feel insecure."

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