Ethiopia won’t allow inspection of dam, but ready to negotiate with post-Mubarak Egypt

Egypt will not be allowed to examine a new mega dam Ethiopia is building on the Nile unless Cairo signs a deal relinquishing its power of veto over allocation of the river's waters, Ethiopian Foreign Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said two days ago.

Asked if Addis Ababa will allow Egypt to reassure itself that the dam will not affect the flow of Nile water, he said, “We are ready for negotiations and cooperation at the highest and technical level, but we are a sovereign state.”

At a press conference, Hailemariam said "The Cooperative Framework Agreement (signed by upstream countries) gives this option (examination) to all countries, so we have to engage ourselves to get to an agreement where we can work together equally.”

He also said that relations between Egypt and Ethiopia have improved since the ouster of ex-president Hosni Mubarak. "There's a new momentum now in Egypt after the revolution, there's desire from all sides that we should engage and close all the past chapters, because there were ups and downs in the past."

Meanwhile, Egyptian diplomatic sources also said that both are seeking to restore confidence and turn over a new leaf.

Though declining to comment on Hailemariam's statement that Egypt may not inspect the Grand Millennium Dam, sources pointed out however that the two countries are communicating to set a date for a visit by Egyptian Prime Minister Essam Sharaf to Ethiopia in May.

The sources said Sharaf’s visit will be part of an African tour that will also take him to Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. These visits are expected to have a positive impact on relations with Nile Basin countries, the sources said.

Translated from the Arabic Edition

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