Egypt, Uganda discuss ties ahead of Nile Basin summit: Ministry

Ayat Al Tawy , Wednesday 3 May 2017

Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry (second right) during talks with Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni, Entebbe, Uganda, Tuesday May 2, 2017 (Photo: Egyptian Foreign Ministry Facebook page)

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry discussed on Tuesday with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni mutual ties and means to boost cooperation among Nile Basin countries ahead of an upcoming presidential summit scheduled in June, the foreign ministry said in a statement.

Shoukry delivered a letter from President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi to Museveni on ways to boost bilateral cooperation in all fields, foreign ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid said late on Tuesday.

Abu Zeid said Shoukry and Musevini's discussion mainly focused on "making adequate preparations for the summit" of the heads of state of the Nile Basin countries, called for by Museveni.

Uganda is the current chair of the Nile Council of Ministers of Water Affairs of the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI). Egypt froze its NBI membership in 2010 over disagreements about the Cooperative Framework Agreement, more commonly known as the Entebbe agreement.

Last July, Egyptian Irrigation Minister Mohamed Abdel-Ati attended the 24th annual meeting of the NBI’s Nile Council of Ministers (Nile-Com) in Uganda after years of absence, a move seen as a partial return of the North African nation to active participation in the group.

The NBI comprises 10 permanent members: Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda. Eritrea has observer status.

Abu Zeid said Shoukry stressed during the talks the importance of guaranteeing "mutual interest and no harm" to all Nile Basin countries during the summit.

A meeting of foreign and water ministers of the Nile Basin countries is set to be held in the run-up to the summit, the spokesman added.

In March, Egypt's Water Resources Minister Mohamed Abdel took part in talks held by NBI's council of ministers in Uganda's Entebbe which addressed Cairo's concerns on the Nile Basin Initiative and the Entebbe agreement.

Earlier that month, the first round of meetings was held in Sudan's capital Khartoum. 

Officials have said the upcoming summit will look at the results of earlier meetings as well as points of contention on the Entebbe agreement.

The agreement, which was developed over more than a decade, had been signed by six Nile Basin countries by 2011: Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.

Egypt and Sudan have declined to sign the treaty -- which sets out the principles and obligations of member states regarding the use of the basin's water resources -- citing concerns about its reallocation of water quotas and other provisions.

Historic water-sharing pacts between Egypt and Sudan continue to govern the distribution of Nile waters between the two countries.

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