Egypt church asked Ethiopia pope to postpone visit

CAIRO – Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church Abune Mathias has indefinitely postponed a visit he was scheduled to pay to Cairo on Friday upon a request from the Egyptian Orthodox Church, a source with the Egyptian church said Monday.

According to the source, who asked not to be named, Patriarch of the Egyptian Orthodox Church Pope Tawadros II had advised Pope Mathias to postpone the visit lest it would embarrass the Egyptian church over the row between the two countries on Ethiopia's controversial multibillion-dollar hydroelectric dam on the Nile River.

The source told Anadolu Agency that the Egyptian church came to the conclusion that any unofficial mediation between the two governments would fail, even if it was by the church, which has historic relations with its counterpart in Ethiopia.

Egypt is worried that the dam would sharply reduce its share of the Nile River, its only source of water, but Ethiopia says the project is indispensible for its economic development and asserted it would not harm Egypt's interests.

The church source said the Egyptian church prefers official solutions to solve the deadlock through the formation of a committee of experts that would handle the problem in a scientific manner, away from any influence by the religious institution in it.

"The church will issue a statement later to announce the cancelation of the visit of the Ethiopian pope upon his request for personal reasons," the source said.

Pope Mathias postponed a similar visit to Cairo in June on the background of the row between Cairo and Addis Ababa.

Pope Tawadros II also cancelled a visit he should have paid to Ethiopia in mid-September for the same reason.

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