Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II said on Thursday that the Nile River is a gift from God, like air and the sun, for all people, and that he therefore “prays and trusts” that the negotiations between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) “will move forward towards a solution that is appropriate for all," Al-Ahram Arabic reported.
Tawadros' remarks came during a meeting with the recently appointed Ethiopian ambassador to Egypt, Markos Tekle.
The last round of trilateral talks on the dam, which were brokered by the African Union (AU), concluded in August without reaching an integrated draft agreement on the operation and filling of the dam.
Egypt's irrigation ministry said on 28 August that Cairo, Khartoum and Addis Ababa had not reached consensus on the legal and technical points of contention on the $4.8 billion hydropower project.
On Wednesday, President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said in his address to the 75th Session of the UN General Assembly that the GERD negotiation period "should not be extended indefinitely, to impose a new status quo."
The GERD, built 15 kilometres from the Ethiopian border with Sudan, has been a source of contention between the three countries since construction began in 2011. The first filling of the near-complete dam took place this summer.
During Thursday's meeting, Tawadros hailed the strength of the relationship between Egypt and Ethiopia, as well as between the Egyptian and Ethiopian churches, referring to the loving relationship that binds him to the patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, Abune Mathias.
The pope also stressed the importance of the role the Ethiopian ambassador will play to strengthen relations between the two countries during his term.
Tekle submitted a copy of his credentials to Assistant Foreign Minister for African Affairs Ambassador Abu Bakr Hefny on August 27 to officially take up his post.