President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi said Egypt does not oppose Ethiopia’s right to development through implementation of projects on the River Nile, in a Thursday meeting with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.
Al-Sisi added, however, that there should be consideration of Egypt’s water rights, particularly as the river Nile constitutes the only source of the country’s water needs.
The meeting came on the sidelines of the 24th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU) in Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. Al-Sisi and Desalgen agreed that the solution for the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) issue will be coordinated through a joint commission, according to an official presidential statement by spokesperson.
During his short visit, Al-Sisi also held several bilateral meetings with the presidents of Tunisa, Tunisia, Uganda, Djibouti, South Sudan and the prime minister of Sweden, amongst others.
Al-Sisi travelled to Addis Ababa on 29 January as the AU summit is to conclude Saturday. He had to cut his visit short due to major attacks in North Sinai on Thursday night targeting a number of security building and installations. The attacks claimed the lives of at least 25 police and army personnel, according to state-run newspaper Al-Ahram on Friday.
The GERD has been an issue of contention and tripartite talks between Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan. The latter two nations have expressed concern over the potential impact the hydroelectric dam could have on their share of vital River Nile water.
The foreign ministers of Egypt and Ethiopia expressed in November mutual recognition for the water rights of each other’s nations following the fifth session of the Egyptian-Ethiopian joint committee in Addis Ababa.
In January 2015, Egypt objected to the dam’s current of high storage capacity, as studies showed it will affect Egypt’s national water security.
Egypt was reinstated to the AU last June, months after being suspended in the wake of former president Mohamed Morsi’s ouster, which the AU considered an unconstitutional military coup d’etat.