President Mohamed Morsy announced on Thursday he will travel to Ethiopia, marking the first visit to the country by a sitting president of Egypt in 17 years.
President Morsy said he intends to return “to Africa’s arms as well as those of the Nile Basin Countries,” MENA news agency reported.
The announcement from Saudi Arabia, where Morsy is currently meeting with the Saudi royal family as well as government officials, comes at a time when relations are rather tense between both Egypt and Ethiopia.
Ethiopia’s construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam has caused worry in both Egypt and Sudan, who are very concerned about the effect the dam will have on their access to Nile water. Morsy will attend the 19th Ethiopia African Union summit, which will take place on 15 and 16 July in Addis Ababa. Morsy will leave on Sunday to head to Ethiopia.
Ousted president Hosni Mubarak last visited Ethiopia in 1995, and refused to return after his motorcade came under fire in an assassination attempt. Five people were killed in the shootout between the assailants and Mubarak’s security.
Egyptian officials at the time said extremist Islamist Egyptians travelled to Ethiopia specifically to assassinate the Mubarak, in order to transform Egypt into an Islamist state.
Mubarak was unharmed in the shootout. Nevertheless, Egypt has been sending its foreign ministers – and not its president – to attend the summit since.
Libya, another neighbouring nation recovering from post-uprising violence, has also announced its participation in the Ethiopia summit.