Egypt water minister lauds 'new chapter' with Nile Basin states

Ahram Online , Monday 20 Feb 2012

Water minister Hisham Kandil points to good relations with upstream states but reiterates refusal by Cairo, Khartoum to sign on to 2010 Nile-sharing agreement

Women wash clothes as children play along the Nile river in Southern Sudan's capital of Juba (Photo: Reuters)

Egypt has begun a "new chapter" in its relations with the states of the Nile Basin – and the African continent in general – following last year's revolution and is working on finding a solution agreeable to all parties involved in the longstanding dispute over Nile water, Hisham Kandil, Egyptian minister of irrigation and water resources, said at a Monday meeting with Ain Shams University professors.

Kandil added that Egyptian officialdom was currently in the process of meeting with water ministers and experts in Sudan and the Nile basin states in hopes of reaching a mutually acceptable water-sharing agreement.

The minister reiterated, however, that neither Egypt nor Sudan would sign any water-sharing agreement not in the interests of the Egyptian and Sudanese people. He also stressed that an earlier framework agreement – signed by a handful of upstream countries in 2010 – had not been obligatory for Egypt or Sudan, stating definitively that neither Cairo nor Khartoum would ever sign on to the agreement.

Kandil went on to point to several cooperation projects currently underway between Egypt and Nile Basin countries, including water and electricity projects in states and regions such as South Sudan, Darfur, Tanzania and Uganda.

The minister further said that a delegation of Egyptian businessmen would travel to Ethiopia later this week to participate in the launch of an industrial zone in which Egypt's private sector had invested a total of $2 billion.

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