By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
September 5, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) – Egypt’s foreign minister, Sameh Shoukry, met on Thursday with his Ethiopian counterpart, Tedros Adhanom, in Addis Ababa where the two sides discussed issues related to a controversial Ethiopian dam project being constructed along the Nile River.
The 4.3 billion dollar power plant project, known as the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), has become a source of fierce dispute between Ethiopia and Egypt, amid fears the massive dam project will diminish the latter’s water share.
Adhanom and Shoukry exchanged views on the outcomes of the fourth tripartite Nile talks held in Khartoum last week between Ethiopia Sudan and Egypt.
While both expressing satisfaction on the outcomes of the tripartite talks in Khartoum , the two ministers further consulted on the way forward for the two countries to build a new era of a comprehensive cooperative partnership.
Previously, the three countries have held negotiations talks in November, December and January, but failed to reach into agreement.
However, last week’s tripartite talks, which resumed after a seven-month-long impasse, have managed to resolve most of the existing contentions.
The parties have also expressed commitment to move forward in a spirit of trust and confidence.
Accordingly, they agreed to establish a technical committee comprising four experts from each country to conduct additional studies on the impacts of the dam on lower riparian countries (Sudan and Egypt) based on the recommendations forwarded by the International Panel of Experts in May 2013.
During Thursday’s discussion, Adhanom said “there is strong urgency to keep up the momentum for lasting friendship and mutual advancement under the spirit of shared benefits for all”.
“What we have agreed today in our discussion is to use as many bonds as possible to bring the two countries even closer,” he said.
Adhanom commended the strong desire demonstrated by the current Egyptian leadership to overcome the long-standing differences over shares of Nile water flows, which is a source of potable water to Egypt’s 84 million people.
Shoukry underscored that relations with Ethiopia remains a key component of Egypt’s foreign policy.
The two sides have also discusses preparation to establish a joint ministerial commission.
Strengthening cultural, social and economic ties were also other areas of discussion.
“We have several agreements in the pipeline in agriculture, health, air transport, urban development, tourism and others areas which we expect to sign,” said Adhanom.
Shoukry, who arrived in Addis Ababa on Thursday after concluding his tour in Europe on Wednesday, has also delivered a message from Egypt’s President al-Sisi to Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.
An Ethiopian diplomat on Friday told Sudan Tribune that Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is due to pay a visit to Ethiopia soon for further discussions on the Nile water row and to consult on other bilateral and regional issues.
By Tesfa-Alem Tekle