Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed pledged on Sunday to work together and reach a compromise on the conflict over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which has spurred Egyptian concerns over its historical share of the Nile’s water.
During a press conference following their meeting in Cairo, the two leaders agreed to work towards establishing a tripartite infrastructure fund to provide suggestions for joint infrastructure and development projects in Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan.
Ahmed’s first visit to Cairo came after weeks of tensions in the negotiations between Egypt and Ethiopia over the GERD and the Draft Inception Report.
Al-Sisi said, “we have made progress in building trust and boosting cooperation. We will continue our sincere efforts to overcome our mutual challenges, which are about reaching a final compromise over the GERD to secure Egypt’s water needs,” which he said is at the top of his priorities. He added, “the agreement also should secure achieving welfare and development for the Ethiopian people.”
He further added that he and Ahmed discussed to increase economic cooperation and said the two countries will facilitate and boost investments in both countries, including establishing an Egyptian economic zone in Ethiopia.
During the press conference, Al-Sisi asked Ahmed to swear not to harm Egypt’s share of water. Ahmed did so, repeating the phrase after Al-Sisi in Arabic.
In his speech, Ahmed said that his country will not harm Egypt’s share of water, saying, “we believe that it’s our right to benefit from the Nile’s waters, but also without harming the interests of the Egyptian people,” adding, “we want to forget the past and to start a new phase of loving, and cooperation, to follow the steps of those who reached development.” He further said, “we will take care of the Nile and not only keep your share, but also we will increase it.” Ahmed also thanked Al-Sisi for releasing Ethiopian prisoners in Egypt during his visit.