Egypt, Ethiopia FM Presser Not Cancelled, Talks Were Positive: Spokesman

Talks between the Egyptian foreign minister and his Ethiopian counterpart are still ongoing, and a joint press conference held by the two will go on as scheduled, Egyptian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Badr Abd-Elaty announced.

Abd-Elaty’s statement was released in response to an Associated Press report claiming that the press conference had been cancelled.  The AP called the reported cancellation a “possible sign that the talks are not sailing smoothly.”

Abd-Elary countered the AP’s report, stating “The talks are taking place in a positive atmosphere and a spirit of cooperation.”

The talks, according to Abd-Elaty, are part of a series of efforts to form a permanent dialogue between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia on Nile water issues.

Egypt’s foreign minister Mohamed Kamel Amr arrived in Addis Ababa on Sunday, where he is meeting with his Ethiopian counterpart Tedros Adhanom in an attempt to solve their countries’ recent strife.

Egypt and Ethiopia engaged in a sharp exchange of words after Ethiopia began diverting the Blue Nile in order to construct its $4.2 billion hydro-electric project, dubbed the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

Amr released a statement shortly after Abd-Elaty, confirming he had met with Adhanom in the first round of discussions.

The Egyptian foreign minister explained that the discussions were aimed at finding a “political solution” to the current conflict surrounding Ethiopia’s dam.

In the first meeting, the foreign ministers and their accompanying delegations agreed that public opinion in both countries could be improved through targeted campaigns, a diplomatic source told the Middle East News Agency (MENA).

The officials agreed that negative public opinion, encouraged by the media, has worsened the dispute over the dam. They stressed the need to end the charged rhetoric of recent weeks and find a political solution instead.

The Egyptian diplomatic source stated that the Ethiopian side is flexible and open to recommendations made by the tripartite technical committee regarding the building of the dam. Ethiopia will go on with its plans to build the dam, taking into account technical studies and proposed adjustments so as to not negatively impact either Egypt or Sudan.

Ethiopia does not oppose forming another technical committee with Egypt and Sudan, said the official, who assured that the new dam would be used in development projects. A political path to negotiations will guarantee that Egypt’s share of water will not be harmed, he added.

In the next round of negotiations, Egyptian participants will include Deputy Foreign Minister for African Affairs Ali Hefny, Deputy Foreign Minister for Affairs of the Nile Amal Salama, foreign minister consultant Ahmed Abu-Zeid and the information manager from the Ministry of Water Resource’s Nile department Sherif Mohammadi.

Source : Ahram