Egypt’s Sisi talks mutual ties, dam operation with Ethiopian PM

Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has called for boosting mutual ties with Ethiopia reaffirming the importance of an agreement on sharing Nile river waters.

During his talks with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn on the sidelines of an African summit in Kegali, El-Sisi stressed that Cairo is keen to bolster Egyptian-Ethiopian relations, adding that his country would continue to provide technical and development assistance to Addis Ababa, his office said in a statement on Monday.

A giant hydroelectric dam project Ethiopia is building has been the source of contention between Cairo and Addis Ababa. Egypt, which relies almost exclusively on the Nile for farming and drinking water, fears the dam would significantly diminish its share of the river’s water.

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During the talks on Monday, both sides agreed to begin technical studies on the dam’s hydrological and environmental impacts on downstream countries in order to “reach agreement on the rules of filing and operating” the dam, presidency spokesman Alaa Youssef said in the statement.

The statement added that the technical studies would be based on a cooperation agreement signed last year in Khartoum on the sharing of Nile waters and Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance Dam.

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister stressed during the discussions that “the Renaissance dam should benefit all sides and should not be a source of dispute.”

The principles in the March 2015 agreement include giving priority to downstream countries for electricity generated by the dam and providing compensation for damages, Egyptian Irrigation Minister Hossam Al-Moghazi said.

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Signatories to the agreement pledged to protect the interests of downstream countries when the dam’s reservoir is filled.

Ethiopia began diverting the Blue Nile in May 2013 to build the 6,000 MW dam which will be Africa’s largest when completed

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