Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al Sisi meets Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali on Saturday - Press photo
CAIRO – 10 June 2018: Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali arrived on Saturday night on a two-day visit to Egypt where he will hold talks with President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi on bilateral relations.
Presidential spokesman Bassam Radi said earlier in the day that talks between the two sides are expected to touch on boosting cooperation in various fields and other African issues of mutual concern.
This is the Ethiopian premier’s first visit to Egypt since assuming his post in April.
Both leaders are expected to discuss several files, on top of them, is the lengthy dispute over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia have started a new round of negotiations in May to settle the technical different opinions on GERD.
Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam construction (Photo: Reuters)
The previous negotiations between the three countries took place in two stages, the first meeting in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa included the three states’ irrigation ministers. The meeting was hailed as a technical gathering that precedes another tripartite meeting on the political level, the latter took place on May 14.
The last tripartite meeting in Khartoum, took place on April 6, ended with a deadlock when Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry announced that no resolution was reached, as Ethiopian officials insist that the dam will not harm any of the Nile’s downstream countries, namely Egypt and Sudan.
Egypt fears a likely negative impact on its annual share of Nile water, the country’s main source of water. Despite the long discussions, the matter remains locked in a stalemate.
Ethiopia has witnessed a dire turmoil that led to the resignation of former Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn on February 15.
Egypt’s President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi (L), with his Sudanese counterpart, Omar Hassan al-Bashir (C), and former Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn - Reuters/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah
However, Egyptian officials can pin their hopes for accelerating the talks on current Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the first Oromo member to assume the office. The Oromo ethnic group has suffered from a long repression imposed by the traditional rulers of the African Horn state, who are mainly members of the Amhara and Tigray ethnic groups.
Ethiopia started to build GERD in 2011 without consulting Egypt, and the move led to a long diplomatic spat between both states. The African Horn state is in desperate need of the dam, as it suffers from staggering daily power outages.
Technical officials in the three countries opted to hire two French consultancy companies – BRL and Artelia – in September 2016. However, the negotiations were brought to a halt in November 2017 as Ethiopia and Sudan objected the companies’ preliminary report on the environmental impact of GERD.
In December 2017, Egypt demanded the intervention of the World Bank in the matter, a move that was rejected by Ethiopia.
Ethiopia seeks to start filling GERD’s reservoir during the upcoming Nile flood season in July.
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