Ethiopian prime minister, seeking to boost relations, begins first visit to Egypt

Hagar Omran
3 Min Read
New Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed reacts during his rally in Ambo, about 120km west of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on April 11, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Zacharias Abubeker (Photo credit should read ZACHARIAS ABUBEKER/AFP/Getty Images)

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed started a two-day visit to Egypt on Saturday, said Ethiopian Ambassador to Egypt Taye Atske-Selassie Amde, adding that the prime minister will hold a high-level meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and other Egyptian officials.

Amde told Daily News Egypt that the Ethiopian prime minister’s visit will take Egypt’s relations to the highest level, noting, “the prime minister is still new to his office and has chosen Egypt to visit, which is a sign of the longstanding relations with Egypt.”

Ethiopian Minister of Water, Irrigation, and Electricity Seleshi Bekele also arrived in Cairo on Saturday, heading an Ethiopian delegation visiting Egypt to discuss bilateral cooperation between Egypt and Ethiopia, as well as the issue of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

During his visit to Egypt, Bekele is set to meet Egyptian officials from the Ministry of Irrigation and Water Resources to review the preparations of the upcoming nine-party meeting of the ministers of foreign affairs, water, and heads of intelligence of Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia. The meeting will be held on 18 June in Cairo.

In their past meeting last month in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, the officials of the three countries agreed on establishing the Tripartite Infrastructure Fund to provide suggestions for joint infrastructure and development projects in the three nations, in line with the directives of the leaders of the three states in their expected meeting in Sharm El-Sheikh.

They also agreed on establishing an independent scientific research study group of the three countries to discuss ways of boosting the level of cooperation among them regarding the GERD, as well as discussing various scenarios related to the filling and operation rules of the GERD in accordance with the principle of equitable and reasonable utilisation of shared water resources, and to prevent causing harm to each party.  

The past several weeks witnessed tensions between Egypt and Ethiopia over the GERD and the Draft Inception Report. Egypt garbours fears that the GERD could affect its historic share of Nile water. The dam, formerly known as the Millennium Dam, is under construction in the Benishangul-Gumuz region of Ethiopia on the Blue Nile River.

Construction of the dam started in April 2011. However, Egypt has expressed concerns that the construction of the dam could negatively affect its historic Nile water share of 55bn square metres, which it has had access to since a1959 agreement with Sudan.

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