Ethiopia, Egypt seek to look beyond Nile

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Addis Ababa, 4 September 2014 (WIC) – Having agreed to establish a committee to conduct additional studies regarding the impacts of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), Ethiopia and Egypt are seeking to broaden their ties by establishing a joint ministerial commission.

Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry is in Addis Ababa on a one day bilateral visit where he met Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and Foreign Minister Dr. Tedros Adhanom.

“What we have agreed today in our discussion is to use as many bonds as possible to bring the two countries even closer,” said Dr. Tedros during a joint press briefing with his Egyptian counterpart.

“We have several agreements in the pipeline in agriculture, health, air transport, urban development, tourism and others areas which we expect to sign,” Tedros said. Conducting business forums and cultural exchanges were also discussed aimed at bridging the people to people interaction, according to the foreign minister.  
The two countries are also making preparations to establish a joint ministerial commission.

“We are looking forward that [the joint commission] will set the stage for new areas of cooperation between the two countries to consolidate what is an already deep [and] historic relation that bind us,” foreign minister of Egypt said.

‘New spirit’

Relations between the two countries, which soured when Ethiopia launched the 6,000MW hydroelectric plant on the Nile three years ago, improved following a meeting between Prime Minister Hailemariam and Egypt’s recently elected President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.

The meeting, held on the sidelines of the 23rd African Union Summit in Equatorial Guinea capital Malabo, was hailed as a success by both sides for opening a ‘new spirit’ of cooperation.

Following that meeting, the two sides agreed to resume the tripartite talk after seven months of impasse.

Late August, water ministers of Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan agreed to establish a committee to conduct additional studies on GERD. The studies were recommended by an International Panel of Experts in May 2013 after assessing the impacts and benefits of the dam.

Shoukry, who is on a first visit to Ethiopia in his capacity as a foreign minister, also delivered a message from President Al-Sisi to Prime Minister Hailemariam.