Kenya, Egypt play down Nile row

May 24, 2010 12:00 am

, CAIRO, Egypt, May 24 – Egypt and Kenya sought to play down a regional row following the signing by five African states of a new agreement on water-sharing opposed by Cairo.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga praised the "strong relationship" between Cairo and Nairobi and stressed that the new agreement is "not anti-Egypt."

"We are very conscious of the fact that the economy of Egypt will not thrive without the Nile and therefore we will do everything possible to ensure that the water security of Egypt is not in any way affected by any agreement," Mr Odinga said.

"I want to say that I\’m bringing the message of optimism and a clear message of hope… Any clause that will cause anxiety and concern to Egypt will be reviewed," he said.

"Nothing is cast in stone. I\’m sure we will come to an agreement that is acceptable to everyone," he added. "I believe an understanding will be reached in the coming months."

The new pact was signed by Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda for what is said to be an equitable sharing of the Nile\’s waters, despite strong opposition from Egypt and Sudan which currently enjoy the lion\’s share of the river.

Egypt is now trying to engage in discussions to ensure it is not left out of a process that is vital to its future.

Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif said Egypt was "willing to listen to all our African brothers."

He said Egypt was still negotiating over one clause in the new agreement.
"There is no disagreement over the meaning or the essence of the agreement. The disagreement is in the drafting," he said, adding that discussions with all parties were ongoing.

"We are stressing our rights and they need more flexibility from us," he said.


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