Ethiopia FM welcomes gesture by Egypt's Sisi

ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopian Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom has welcomed statements by newly-inaugurated Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi regarding Egypt-Ethiopia ties.

"Ethiopia appreciates this positive message and we assure President Sisi and [our] Egyptian brothers and sisters that we believe the same," Adhanom wrote on his official Facebook page Monday.

"We are determined to take our relationship with Egypt to a higher level by building trust and confidence," he added.

In a Sunday speech following his inauguration as Egypt's new president, al-Sisi said he would not allow Ethiopia's multibillion-dollar hydroelectric dam – currently being built on the Nile's upper reaches – to damage Egypt's relations with Ethiopia or other African countries.

"I will not allow the Renaissance Dam to cause any crises," al-Sisi said. "If the dam symbolizes Ethiopia's right to development, the Nile symbolizes Egypt's right to life."

Relations between Cairo and Addis Ababa soured last year over Ethiopia's construction of a $6.4-billion hydroelectric dam on the Blue Nile. The project raised alarm bells in Egypt, which relies on the river for almost all its water needs.

Adhanom said that he met his Egyptian counterpart, Nabil Fahmi, on the sidelines of al-Sisi's inauguration ceremony, where the two men discussed a host of issues.

"[We] discussed bilateral issues, such as boosting cooperation on investment and tourism," Adhanom wrote on Facebook. "We also exchanged views on the GERD [the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam] and the CFA [Comprehensive Framework Agreement, signed in 2010]."

Water distribution among Nile Basin states has long been regulated by a colonial-era treaty that gives Egypt and Sudan the lion's share of river water. Ethiopia, for its part, says it has never recognized the treaty.

The CFA, signed by upstream countries in 2010, aims to replace the colonial-era water-sharing treaty with a more equitable arrangement.

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