Qatar's FM says relations with Egypt moving in 'positive direction', stresses need to reach deal on GERD

Ahram Online , Tuesday 15 Jun 2021

He described Egypt as a “pivotal and important state” to all Arab states.

Egypt’s foreign minister Sameh Shoukry meets Qatari Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani (Photo courtesy of MOFA)

Qatar's foreign minister said Tuesday that relations with Egypt have been moving in a positive direction since a reconciliation deal was signed earlier this year to end a year-long diplomatic rift.

In January, Egypt, along with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, signed an agreement in the Saudi city of Al-Ula that restored ties with Doha and ended a boycott by the Arab quartet that started in mid-2017.

“There is a mutual desire by the two countries to upgrade bilateral relations and for the return of brotherly ties,” Qatari Foreign Minister Mohamed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani told a press conference following a meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Doha.

"We are looking forward to having firm steps towards improving ties," added.

He said many outstanding issues between Doha and Cairo have been resolved through meetings of follow-up committees formed by the two countries.

He pointed out to recent developments in the bilateral relations, which included exchanged visits by the two countries' top diplomat and letters between Egypt's President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani.

He described his talks with the Egyptian foreign ministers on Monday as 'positive' and 'constructive', and Egypt as a 'pivotal and important state' to all Arab states.

Tuesday's meeting of Arab foreign ministers discussed the crisis of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), amid worries over Addis Ababa's plan for a second filling of the dam without an accord.

Negotiations between Ethiopia and downstream countries Egypt and Sudan stalled in April after Addis Ababa refused the two countries' request to include the U.S., the EU, and the UN in mediation talks.

Tensions are running high over Addis Ababa's plan to go ahead with the second filling of the GERD's reservoir with or without a legally binding instrument with Cairo and Khartoum.

The Qatari foreign minister said the meeting asserted the need of signing a legally binding deal on the dam that preserves the rights of all involved parties.

The Arab foreign ministers called for mediation to ensure that no unilateral steps that could harm Egypt or Sudan are taken, he added.

Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit said there was a clear and strong Arab support to Egypt and Sudan given that the security of both countries is a part of Arab national security.

Ethiopia plans to hold 13.5 billion cubic metres of water during the second filling of the GERD’s reservoir in July, despite the objections of Egypt and Sudan to the move in the absence of a legally binding agreement.

Egypt’s 100 million-plus population depends on the Nile for over 95 percent of its fresh water.

Sudan fears the GERD will put the operation of its Roseires dam and the lives of 20 million Sudanese citizens at “a very high risk” if an agreement regulating the operation and filling of GERD is not reached before the second filling.

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