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Dialogue, co-op vital to end Nile row
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May 26, 2010 - 7:00:35 AM

Dialogue, co-op vital to end Nile row undefined undefined   2010-05-26 21:50:30


by Li Laifang, Emad El-Azrak

CAIRO, May 26 (Xinhua) -- Diplomatic efforts between Egypt and some other Nile basin countries have yielded positive signs of solving a row sparked by a new pact calling for equitable water use.

Over the weekend, the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo Joseph Kabila and Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga visited Cairo and held talks with top Egyptian leaders about the Nile issue.

The visits have promoted mutual understanding between Egypt and other riparian states on the Nile row. The most important message the two leaders conveyed to Cairo is that all other Nile basin countries harbor no intention to harm Egypt's water rights.

On May 14, Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania signed a new Cooperative Framework Agreement in Uganda, despite opposition from Egypt and Sudan. Kenya joined the pact on May 19.

The new agreement comes after years of negotiations among the Nile basin states over the water-sharing problem. Two historical treaties have granted Egypt and Sudan the right to use more than 85 percent of the Nile water.

More than 90 percent of Egypt's around 80 million population rely on the river. Water security has been one of the country's top priorities. It is understandable that Egypt worries a lot about what the possible impact of the new agreement upon the country.

But the upstream countries are also striving for development. Thus, they have been trying to get a bigger share of the Nile water.

Each country has its own development rights. The core of the issue is how the water use of upstream countries does not affect the needs of downstream nations, especially Egypt.

Negotiations indicate a common view that any development projects related to the Nile should be reviewed by all the basin nations. The tangible and positive outcome of the diplomatic efforts shows the possibility of solving the Nile water-sharing question, said Mahmoud Abul Einain, chief of the Institute of African Research and Studies at Cairo University.

"This (solution) could be achieved through talks and negotiations, the true understanding of demands of each side and cooperation for the benefit of all sides," the researcher told Xinhua, stressing the need of more fruitful negotiations among the basin countries.

Diplomatic efforts will continue in the coming weeks over the Nile problem. These will help exchange views and hopefully reach an agreement among the riparian countries.

Only through dialogue and cooperation, can the Nile water issue be solved without harming interests of any basin state.

Editor: Lin Li

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