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Egypt tells Ethiopia it will negotiate over Nile

Tigrai Online
April. 21 2011

Tigrai Online - Ethiopian Blue Nile River

Egypt's ambassador to Ethiopia said Thursday that his government is willing to negotiate disputed Nile River issues with Ethiopia, including a colonial-era treaty that gives Egypt a majority stake in the river.

Ambassador Tarik Ghoneim said Egypt's new government wants to start discussions with all nine Nile countries about using waters in the best interest of all.

"Everything is on the table," he said.

Egypt has previously refused any deal that would reduce its share of the Nile and give more access to other countries. A 1929 treaty gives Egypt majority rights to the Nile's waters.

"We shouldn't look back to the past," Ghoneim said. "It would be very healthy and good for us to be very transparent and be very open and discuss everything. This will lead us to finding this win-win situation."

Ethiopian plans to build a hydroelectric power dam along the Blue Nile River had drawn objections from Egypt and Sudan.

Ghoneim did not give details on what agreements may be reached about the $5 billion hydropower dam. But he said Egypt's prime minister will visit Ethiopia soon to learn more about the dam.

"We have to know more details in order for us to engage in a project of this magnitude," Ghoneim said. "We would like to listen to Ethiopia and understand more."

Ethiopian officials welcomed the offer. "There is a new momentum in Egypt after the revolution," said Foreign Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn.