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Ethiopia’s Zenawi will visit Egypt next month


By Tesfa-Alem Tekle

August 30, 2011 (ADDIS ABABA) - Ethiopian Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi, will visit Cairo in September for talks over a number of regional and continental concerns with officials of Egypt’s governing military council, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry has announced.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi (Reuters)

Zenawi’s visit, originally scheduled for July, will be his first since an uprising in Egypt toppled the 30 year rule of the country’s leader Hosni Mubarak last February.

According to Egypt’s foreign affairs ministry, the Ethiopian premier will meet with the head of the ruling military council Hussein Tantawi, Prime Minister Essam Sharaf and Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr, as well as several businessmen and political analysts concerned with Ethiopian-Egyptian relations.

Addis Ababa says the new military government in Egypt is moving to build better relations with Ethiopia.

Last May, Egypt sent a 48-member popular public diplomacy delegation to pave a new approach and smooth its relations with Ethiopia on their long-standing dispute over the Nile waters.

A week later, Egyptian prime minister, Essam Sharaf, arrived in Ethiopia where he held talks with senior government officials to mark a new chapter of cooperation between the two countries.

His visit was welcomed by Ethiopia as a major step forward in solving their differences over Nile water.

Ethiopian and Egyptian ministers during their recent meetings said they have discussed the developments in bilateral relations and the prospects of forming a tripartite committee between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia to assess the impact of a massive hydro-powered dam Ethiopia intends to build, costing $4.78 billion, along its share of the Blue Nile, near the Sudanese border.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr said he expects the latest ongoing negotiations and planned visits by the Ethiopian prime minister to turn a new page in relations between the two countries.

Ethiopia is the biggest source of the Blue Nile waters contributing over 85 percent of it although Egypt and Sudan benefit from more than 90 percent of the water resource as a hangover from a colonial era agreement.

Led by Ethiopia, four upstream countries in May 2010 signed a new treaty in Entebe, Uganda, seeking a more equitable water sharing agreement. Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Burundi and Rwanda have signed the treaty so far in an attempt to end Egypt’s historical control over the Nile’s water.


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