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Egypt says date and location of meeting on water has yet to be determined

August 11, 2013 (KHARTOUM) – The Egyptian ambassador to Ethiopia Mohamed Idris has denied media statements attributed to him saying that water ministers of Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt have agreed to hold a meeting in Addis Ababa within the coming few days.

JPEG - 41.2 kbAn Egyptian farmer holds a handful of soil to show the dryness of the land due to drought in a farm formerly irrigated by the river Nile, in Al-Dakahlya, about 120 km (75 miles) from Cairo June 4, 2013. ( REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany)

He stressed in statements to the Egyptian state-owned Al-Ahram daily newspaper that contacts and consultations are still underway to convene the meeting and pointed that no agreement has been reached on its schedule or location but said that it is likely to be hold late this month in any of the three capitals.

Idris further said that this meeting comes in accordance with the agreement reached during the visit of Egypt’s former foreign minister Mohamed Kamel Amr, to Addis Ababa, adding that the agreement called for adopting two tracks to address all water issues including Ethiopia’s Renaissance dam.

According to the accord, water ministers will be responsible for the technical aspects while foreign ministers will take on the political side.

The envoy pointed that Egypt’s current foreign minister Nabeel Fahmy, and his Ethiopian counterpart have agreed in a telephone conversation a few weeks ago to expedite the process of holding these meetings.

Tensions between Egypt and Ethiopia heightened this year after Cairo threatened Addis Ababa in connection with its first dam project along the Blue Nile.

The controversial Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), formerly known as the Millennium Dam is being constructed on the Blue Nile 40km from the Sudanese border.

Egypt argues that the construction of the dam would negatively affect their water shares and insisted the project should be scrapped, calling on international donors against funding it.

However Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir announced his support to the scheme saying his government understands the mutual benefits the project could offer Ethiopia and Sudan.

Khartoum’s stance has aggravated Egypt with many political figures blasting Sudan’s “treachery”.

Egypt believes its “historic rights” to the Nile are guaranteed by two treaties from 1929 and 1959 which allow it 87 percent of the Nile’s flow and give it veto power over upstream projects.

But a new deal was signed in 2010 by other Nile Basin countries, including Ethiopia, allowing them to work on river projects without Cairo’s prior agreement.

The first phase of construction of the $4.2 billion dam is expected to be complete in three years, with a capacity of 700 megawatts.

Once complete, the dam will have a capacity of 6,000 megawatts

Experts estimate that Egypt could lose up to 27% of its share of the Nile’s water when Ethiopia fills the GERD, which, when complete will be the Africa’s biggest reservoir with a capacity of 63 billion cubic meters.


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Sudan denies interference in Egyptian politics

August 3, 2013 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese top diplomat in Cairo denied reports that the Egypt-based Muslim Brotherhood (MB) group has a television channel broadcasting from Khartoum as was reported by some media outlets.

JPEG - 12.4 kbSudanese ambassador in Cairo Kamal Hassan Ali

The Sudanese ambassador Kamal Hassan Ali emphasized to state-run al-Ahram newspaper in Cairo that what is happening in Egypt is an affair that would concerns Egyptians only.

Ali underscored that Sudan is not party to events currently happening in Egypt and that Khartoum does not favor one side over the other.

He accused some media houses of fabricating news to create tensions in Egypt-Sudan relations and noted the alleged letter from Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir to deposed Egyptian leader Muhammad Morsi in which he expressed Khartoum’s support of him after his removal.

The Sudanese diplomat said that relationship between the two countries should not be linked to regimes or political parties but must be based on solid popular foundation in the interest of the two peoples.

“Regimes change but people remain,” he said.

Ali also stressed that Khartoum has nothing to do with the smuggling of arms to Egypt across the border and disclosed that the Sudanese security services recently seized cache of weapons sneaked into Egypt but offered no further details.

He went on to say that Khartoum formally asked Cairo to establish joint patrols to fight illegal activities on the borders relating to human trafficking and arms trade.

The ambassador did not say what Egypt’s response to this proposal was.

The dramatic ouster of Morsi last month was greeted with delight by millions of jubilant people on the streets of Cairo and other cities across Egypt.

Sudan’s Islamist government has appeared uncomfortable with the developments in Egypt given the common ideology they shared with Morsi and the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) which brought him to power.

However, Khartoum insisted that it is neutral to the change in Egypt and that it an internal matter.

Unlike most Arab leaders, the Sudanese president has not congratulated interim Egyptian president Adli Mansour on his new role.


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Ban discusses concerns about Egypt with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton


31 July 2013 Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today voiced his deep concern about the direction of the transition in Egypt in a conversation with European Union High Representative Catherine Ashton, who visited the country this week and met with its deposed leader, Mohamed Morsy.

In particular, Mr. Ban shared with Ms. Ashton his concern about the continued detentions in the country, where the military earlier this month removed Mr. Morsy from the presidency amid widespread protests in which dozens of people were killed and wounded. The Constitution was then suspended and an interim Government set up.

Noting that it was welcome and important that Ms. Ashton had seen Mr. Morsy, the Secretary-Genera reiterated his call to release the former president and senior Muslim Brotherhood officials, according to a read-out of the conversation issued by Mr. Ban’s spokesperson.

They stressed the importance of an inclusive political process which would take into account views and aspirations of all parts of Egypt’s political spectrum, it added.

Egypt has been undergoing a democratic transition following the toppling of President Hosni Mubarak two years ago in the wake of mass protests similar to those seen in other parts of the Middle East and North Africa as part of the “Arab Spring.”

Mr. Ban and the High Representative also discussed the Middle East peace process, with the Secretary-General expressing his hope for the success of the current efforts to bring the Israelis and Palestinians together at the negotiating table, and the UN’s readiness to work with the EU and other partners in the diplomatic Quartet to support the process.

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