Egypt seeks development, reconstruction not wars: Sisi

Ahram Online , Tuesday 17 Dec 2019

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi (Photo: Al-Ahram)

Egypt aims to spend resources on development and reconstruction not wars, President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said on Tuesday.

He was speaking during a meeting with foreign journalists on the sidelines of the 2019 World Youth Forum (WYF) held in Sharm El-Sheikh.

El-Sisi's remarks came in response to a question during a press briefing about remarks by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in October in which he said his country is ready to mobilise "millions" if it comes to war over the construction of the Grand Rennaisance Ethiopian Dam on the Blue Nile.

"Egypt has taken a firm stand to protect its Nile water rights that is based on negotiations to iron out any differences with the Ethiopian government," El-Sisi said.

"We do not want to spend our resources on wars but rather on development and reconstruction," he said, according to Egypt's state news agency MENA.

Egypt fears the $4 billion project on the Blue Nile, a tributary of the Nile river, will diminish its already scarce Nile water supply. 

In November, Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia held talks mediated by the US and the World Bank in Washington after Egypt requested international mediation following a deadlock in talks. Officials of the three countries set a January 15 target to reach a solution to the dispute.

"We hope to reach a positive result in this regard by January 15," El-Sisi noted.

Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia released a joint statement last week on the latest developments in the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) negotiations which outlined in detail the path for the second round of talks between the three parties, set to take place in Khartoum and Addis Ababa during the next few weeks before an assessment meeting is held on Washington on 13 January.

The countries agreed that the strategic direction of the next two technical meetings should be the development of technical rules and guidelines for the filling and operation of the GERD, the definition of drought conditions, and the drought mitigation measures to be taken.

On other issues involving Egypt's foreign affairs, El-Sisi said on Monday that Egypt is keen on reaching a maritime border delimitation agreement with Greece.

"The Egyptian government was working with the previous government in Greece in a good way on reaching an agreement, and now after a cabinet change over there we are keen to revive [talks] over the agreement,” El-Sisi added.

On the Palestinian file, El-Sisi reiterated Egypt's firm stance on the Palestinian cause, the settlement issue and the two-state solution, noting that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's plans to increase the number of settlements and annex the Jordan Valley in the West Bank "are just election promises."

"There is a difference between promises and execution," El-Sisi said.

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