President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn signed Thursday several bilateral agreements in context of Desalegn’s first visit to Egypt. The signing included an agreement for cooperation in the industrial field to establish an Egyptian economic zone in Ethiopia.
Desalegn’s visit to Cairo comes amid controversy in Egypt over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which is believed to affect Egypt’s share of water.
The discussions between the two leaders also included signing the report of the Egyptian-Ethiopian mutual committee, what means promoting the level of the committee’s work to the presidential, rather than the ministerial, level.
During a press conference following the meeting, Al-Sisi said that Desalegn’s visit to Egypt confirms the honest intentions between the two sides. “We are interested in boosting relations between Egypt and Ethiopia in the different fields,” Al-Sisi added.
Regarding the GERD, the president said that the Nile River basin is a source of development not conflict, adding: “I’ve expressed concerns to Desalegn regarding halting negotiations on the GERD”.
Al-Sisi further added that Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia are working on passing the current critical situation, praising Ethiopia’s interest in preventing any harm to Egypt’s water share. “We proposed the World Bank as a neutral side in GERD negotiations,” Al-Sisi added.
The Ethiopian prime minister stressed his country’s commitment to work with the technical team regarding the GERD, asserting that Ethiopia understands Egypt’s concerns over GERD, which he stressed, will not affect Egypt’s water security.
Desalegn added that he discussed with Al-Sisi different issues including combating terrorism.