31 December 2013

Egypt to Cooperate With Nile Basin Countries for Water Security

Egypt is keen on cooperating with all Nile Basin countries in a manner that benefits all parties, Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy said on Tuesday.

"Egypt's water security is an indispensible part of the country's national security and it cannot be ignored," Fahmy said, adding that "there are historic and legal rights that cannot be overlooked by any country."

Ethiopia started diverting the course of the Blue Nile, the main tributary of the Nile River, in May as part of its plan to build a hydroelectric dam that generates electricity.

The "Renaissance Dam" is built along the river that provides Egypt with about 60 percent of its annual 55 million cubic metres of Nile water.

This move sparked extensive arguments considering how that would affect Egypt's share of the Nile water.

Egypt and Ethiopia are members of the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI), a partnership among Nile states aimed at sharing the river's socio-economic benefits and promoting regional security.

Three of the Nile Basin countries - Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan - formed an expert committee to study the project.

The committee issued a report, unanimously approved by the three countries, on the potential damages of the dam and recommendations to avoid them in June.

The experts convened again in December and agreed to form another committee to look into the means of implementing their final recommendations.

Representatives of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan are scheduled to meet in January in order to discuss issues related to the Nile water security.

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