Pope Tawadros II, the pope of the Coptic Orthodox church (Photo: Reuters)
Head of Egypt’s Orthodox Church, Pope Tawadros II, arrived to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Saturday on a four-day visit where he will participate in the Feast of the Holy Cross, reported Al-Ahram Arabic news website.
Tawadros II was received by Ethiopian Patriarch Mathias I of the Ethiopian Tewahedo Church at the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Addis Ababa in an official reception.
The Egyptian pope headed to Ethiopia heading a delegation from the Egyptian Orthodox Church.
In interview with Al-Ahram daily newspaper published Saturday, Pope Tawadros II denied that his trip to Ethiopia was related to the latest developments in talks between Egypt and Ethiopia over Nile River water shares, or the construction of the controversial Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).
“This is a church visit, to repay the visit of Father Mathias I to Cairo and it has no relation with the current talks about the Nile River or the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam,” Pope Tawadros II said.
Patriarch Mathais I visited Egypt earlier this year.
Pope Tawadros II also added that he was not commissioned by anyone to speak about the Nile River or Egyptian-Ethiopian relations.
“The Nile River water is a gift of God, it should not be disputed,” the head of the Egyptian Orthodox Church said, adding his patriotic feelings and relations between the two churches pushed him to find consensus.
Currently, talks over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam are stalled after the withdrawal of Dutch consultancy firm Deltares from studies related to assessing the probable impact of GERD.
The future of the negotiations remains unclear after Deltares's withdrawal.
Egypt has repeatedly expressed concern about its Nile water share in the context of the construction of the dam.