Egypt and Ethiopia will form a joint committee in the upcoming three months to enhance bilateral relations between the two countries, the foreign ministers of both countries announced in a joint statement on Friday.
The statement came after Egypt`s new president, Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, met with the Ethiopian Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, after the African Union summit in Equatorial Guinea’s capital Malabo.
According to the statement, the Ethiopian government is committed to avoid any potential damage that could result from the Grand Renaissance dam currently being built on the Blue Nile in Ethiopia.
Sameh Shoukry, the Egyptian foreign minister, along with his Ethiopian counterpart Tedros Adhanom, stressed in the statement that Ethiopia will understand the importance of the Nile to Egypt; and that Egypt will understand the Ethiopian plans and need for development.
The two ministers cited seven main points that El-Sisi and Desalegn discussed during the meeting, including respecting the dialogue and cooperation between the two countries, and the establishment of regional projects for the development of financial resources to meet the growing demand for water and to deal with water shortages.
The Egyptian government is committed to constructive communication with Ethiopia.
The Ethiopian dam has been a source of concern for the Egyptian government since May last year, when images of the dam’s construction stirred public anxiety about its possible effects on Egypt’s share of the Nile’s water.
However, Ethiopian officials insisted the dam would not harm Egypt.
Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan formed a tripartite technical committee to study the possible effects of the dam.
But the committee’s discussions were halted last December when Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir announced his support for the dam during a meeting with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.
Resuming the work of the tripartite technical committee and respecting international legal principles were also among the points on which both sides had reached common ground.
Egypt has demanded that Ethiopia submit the dam’s construction plans for assessment by international experts.
Ethiopian Irrigation Minister Alamayo Tegno said his country was already committed to the recommendations of an international committee of experts.