Egyptian Delegation Receives Warm Welcome in Ethiopia

Egyptian Delegation on Nile MissionMay 2, 2011 ( -- Egyptian Public Diplomatic delegation visited Ethiopia and held discussions on the Renaissance Dam with the House of Peoples’ Representative speaker and aired its concerns over the issue.

Ethiopia has been reiterating that it understands the importance of the Nile River to Egypt. House Speaker Abadula Gemeda, reiterating Ethiopia’s commitment, said that Ethiopia understands that the Nile is the basis of their lives and is essential to their development. He blamed the former Egyptian government led by Hosini Mubarak for all the misunderstanding between his country and Egypt and deterioration of relations. He added that the Renaissance Dam did not pose any threat to either Egypt or Sudan.

Seeking collaboration from Egypt and Sudan on the issue of construction of the $4.7 billion massive Renaissance Dam, the speaker said that all upstream countries must share equal rights to use its water. He called for equitable distribution of the Nile waters between all basin countries and said that collaboration from the two countries was the only solution to the issue of Nile water sharing.

Looking for better relations with Ethiopia after the fall of the previous Egyptian regime, the 48-member delegation, comprising prominent political figures, judges, former parliament members, community leaders, journalists, and youth revolutionaries, reached Friday to hold discussions with President Girma Woldegiorgis and House of Federation Speaker Kassa Teklebrehan.

The group received warm welcome at the airport with traditional Ethiopian folklore troops and prominent Ethiopian officials. Ethiopian Minister of Culture and Tourism Daoud Mohammad Ali, a number of Ethiopian government officials, Egyptian Ambassador to Ethiopia Tarek Ghoneim, Egyptian Consul Mohammad Abdul Rehim and members of the Egyptian diplomatic corps and expatriate community also greeted the group.

According to Ethiopian Foreign affairs Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, regulated water flow would benefit both Sudan and Egypt as it would reduce siltation and increase electric power supply. Claiming that the dam would lower wastage of water through evaporation, the foreign minister said that more than 19 billion cubic meters of water is wasted this way in downstream countries and the Renaissance Dam would help reduce that to 0.4 billion cubic meters.

Since the Ethiopian announcement to build a huge dam on the Nile River, there has been uneasy tension between both countries. The relations deteriorated to such an extent that many, including Ethiopian opposition leaders, feared military operations by Egypt Army to stall the construction of the proposed dam. There were also reports of Egypt upping the ante in the last month against Ethiopia by trying to influence several Nile riparian states. Many reports accuse Egypt of trying to sabotage Ethiopian attempt for foreign funding for the proposed dam construction.

Egyptian fear emanates from the fact that a huge dam on the Nile in every likelihood is to influence the flow of water volume to Egypt, which depends on the river for 90 percent of its needs. The talks are a welcome effort for cooperation between the leading regional powers in North Africa.

According to latest reports, Egypt Prime Minster, Dr. Essam Sharaf, is scheduled to visit Ethiopia shortly, May 13-14, to hold further discussions on the issue with Ethiopian officials.



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