Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi has met with his South Sudanese counterpart Salva Kiir to discuss boosting relations between the two countries. The meeting came on Saturday during President Al-Sisi’s first visit to Juba, the capital of South Sudan, since the country’s independence in 2011.
The two heads of state also discussed the latest developments regarding the negotiations on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). South Sudan is one of the 11 Nile Basin countries.
Both leaders agreed on the need to reach a legally binding agreement on the Ethiopian dam’s filling and operation, as well as supporting cooperation between Nile Basin countries to achieve development and avoid harming any party.
Al-Sisi and Kiir held talks reviewing the bilateral relations between the countries, peace, as well as regional security. It was followed by a general meeting in the presence of delegations representing both countries.
“South Sudan is Egypt’s water future,” said Abbas Sharaky, Professor of Water Resources at Cairo University.
He added that Egypt has been working on several water projects in South Sudan, including the Gongly Canal, even prior to the GERD crisis.
Sharaky believes, however, that the talks between Al-Sisi and Kiir did not focus on the canal, despite the hopes many may hold.
He said that South Sudan is not involved in GERD talks, despite being a Nile Basin nation, as the Blue Nile, over which the Ethiopian dam is built, does not cross South Sudan.
During the meeting, President Al-Sisi affirmed the importance of the visit as a continuation of the distinguished relations between the two brotherly countries at the official and popular levels. He added that the people of Egypt and South Sudan have a common destiny and future.
The President also affirmed Egypt’s keenness to transfer its expertise, and provide technical support and capacity-building programmes to South Sudan in various sectors.
He further stressed Cairo’s keenness on boosting bilateral cooperation and enhancing its support directed at development efforts in South Sudan. This is particularly with the existence of broad prospects for developing economic and trade relations between the two countries.
The meeting also touched on regional issues, particularly in the Nile Basin and the Horn of Africa. The discussions reflected a mutual understanding between the two leaders, and they agreed to intensify the periodic bilateral meetings between senior officials of the two countries.
Moreover, President Al-Sisi hailed President Kiir’s efforts in mediation between the Sudanese government and the revolutionary factions. These efforts resulted in the signing of the Juba Peace Agreement between the two parties last October.
For his part, President Kiir expressed his appreciation for his country’s relations with Egypt, and expressed a desire for increasing the activities of the Egyptian companies in South Sudan. He also briefed his Egyptian counterpart on the situation and ongoing peace process in the country.