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Ethiopia welcomes Egypt’s change of heart over Nile water row

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By Tesfa-Alem Tekle

June 13, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) – Ethiopia on Thursday commended Egypt’s unprecedented and an official decision to peacefully resolve a long-standing dispute with Addis Ababa over a controversial power plant project known as the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

“Ethiopia strongly welcomes Egypt’s interest to re-launch talk over the GERD and solve the problem through dialogue,” spokesperson for Ethiopia Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Dina Mufti told journalists.

“Egypt has no other option except dialogue and win-win negotiation to find a solution that is acceptable by both sides,” he added.

Egypt’s newly elected president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, has recently pledged to resolve the water dispute with Ethiopia through dialogue.

Ethiopian officials said that al-Sisi is expected to pay an official visit to Ethiopia soon probably making it his first trip to a foreign nation since he assumed office in June 8.

Ethiopian foreign minister Tedros Adhanom, who attended the new president’s inaugural ceremony in Cairo, has held meeting with al-Sisi and other high ranking officials over the multi-billion dollar power plant project.

During their discussion Adhanom has reaffirmed Ethiopia’s commitment for cooperation with Egypt based on mutual trust and confidence.

Al-Sisi and Adhanom have also agreed to reactivate the tripartite technical dialogue between Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia and harmonise existing differences by high-level political consultations.

Addis Ababa insists the $ 4.6 billion dam project won’t adversely affect Egypt and Sudan instead the downstream countries will be benefited from the cheap and renewable hydro power processed electricity it generates.

Egypt considers the massive dam project, as a threat to its water security arguing it will eventually diminish its water share.

SUDAN REAFFIRMS SUPPORT

Meanwhile, Sudanese vice-president Bakri Hassan Saleh has reaffirmed his country’s commitment to the dam project which Ethiopia is building in Nile river near the Sudanese border.

Saleh who was in Addis Ababa earlier this week to attend a regional summit of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) made the remarks while holding talks Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.

“Sudan will derive multiple benefits from the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam project,” Saleh said according to the state-run Ethiopian Radio and Television Agency (ERTA).

SOUTH SUDAN CRISIS

Saleh and Desalegn have also consulted on the six-month-long conflict in South Sudan.

While commending Ethiopia’s role to peacefully end the conflict in neighbouring South Sudan, Saleh called on Addis Ababa to continue exerting maximum efforts to bring lasting solution.

Desalegn has also assured his country would remain committed to end the political crises in the youngest nation.

“Ethiopia will continue to put pressure on the South Sudanese rivals through all channels available,” the Ethiopian premier said.

On Tuesday, rival leaders of the two SPLM rival factions, president Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar agreed to end fighting and form a unity government within two months.

At a news conference on Friday, spokesperson for the Ethiopian foreign ministry Dina Mufti said IGAD-member countries have been frustrated by the failure of previous deals.

He however went on to saying that the regional bloc mediating the two warring factions won’t hesitate to take action if the two sides once again violate the latest agreements.

He added that a peacekeeping force drawn from Ethiopia, Uganda and Kenya will be deployed to end the conflict which has killed thousands since violence erupted in mid-December last year.

(ST)

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