Ethiopia’s foreign minister said Addis Ababa and Cairo are looking forward to a new era of mutual ties as he concluded his visit to Egypt, with both countries set for a summit meeting later this month.
Tedros Adhanom has been on a three-day visit to Egypt, along with an accompanying delegation, in which he held talks with new President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and the Egyptian foreign minister over bilateral relations.
“We are working to create a new era of relationships…and new trust,” Adhanom told state news agency MENA early on Tuesday, following a meeting with El-Sisi.
Egypt and Ethiopia will engage in an African Union summit meeting in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, which the Ethiopian minister says will constitute “the start” of a “new era” of cooperation between the two African countries.
The summit is due to take place on 20-27 June.
Ethiopia’s construction of a giant multi-billion dollar hydroelectric dam along the Nile has raised alarm in Egypt after Addis Ababa began diverting the river, Egypt’s main source of potable water, as part of the project.
Ethiopia says the project will not cause water losses to downstream countries.
“We have agreed on the importance of political commitment to make partnership and cooperation better,” Adanhom said. “Thus, if there is a will there is hope,” he added in comments reported by MENA in Arabic.
The Egyptian president “reiterated his readiness to cooperate with Ethiopia based on trust and confidence and [vowed] to open a new era of partnership,” Adhanom wrote on his official Facebook account hours earlier.
“We had a candid discussion,” he said
Ongoing talks between Cairo and the horn of Africa country normally extend to other cooperation prospects including tourism and technology, Adhanom said
Cairo and Addis Ababa will reactivate a tripartite dialogue initiative, which also includes Sudan, after rounds of failed discussions to discuss the construction of the Renaissance Dam project.
“We agreed to resume the tripartite technical dialogue and compliment it with high-level consultations,” Adhanom added in his Facebook comments.
A tripartite committee of experts from the three countries was formed in December 2013 to oversee the studies on the dam’s hydrological and environmental impact on downstream countries. Talks reached an impasse in January, with Ethiopian officials repeatedly calling for another round of talks in recent months.
Sudan supports the 6,000 megawatt dam – designed to be Africa’s biggest.
In his comments to MENA, the senior diplomat criticised Egypt’s media for sending “very negative messages, sometimes systematically, that create a feeling of rejection” between the people of both nations.