Sisi, Johnson discuss developments in GERD dispute, Libya

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Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson exchanged views in a phone call on Thursday evening on the developments in the dispute caused by the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), in addition to a number of regional issues of mutual concern.

President El-Sisi stressed to Johnson the “paramount” importance of the GERD issue describing it as a matter of national security, while reaffirming Cairo’s adherence to its water rights through reaching a legally binding agreement that guarantees “clear” rules for the filling and operation of the dam Addis Ababa is building on the Blue Nile.

Negotiations between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan – the third party of the dispute – have hit a deadlock over the past years, with both downstream countries laying balm on Ethiopia for the failure of past rounds of talks. Egypt and Sudan have repeatedly pursued reaching a legally binding agreement on the rules for filling and operating the dam, but the step has been repeatedly dodged or rejected by the upstream country.

El-Sisi said Egypt aspires to enhance mutual cooperation with the UK in various fields, particularly technology transfer and localization, as well as strengthen political consultation and coordination on regional and international issues of mutual interest.

PM Johnson expressed his keenness to keep in touch with the Egyptian president to enhance consultation and coordination on various regional and international issues, spokesman Bassam Rady said in a statement.

The British PM voiced appreciation for the “pivotal” role Egypt plays, under the leadership of President El-Sisi, towards settling the Libyan issue, in addition to its efforts to help push the political path in Libya and restore its state institutions.

He also praised the role Egypt plays to support and consolidate peace and stability in the Middle East and Africa, voicing out his aspiration to support and develop bilateral relations with Egypt at all levels.

Last month, Egypt welcomed the outcome of a UN-sponsored voting that led to the selection of a Libyan interim government, with the hope of ending a decade-long civil war through planned national elections, scheduled for 24 December.

Egypt has been pushing for a political settlement in Libya for years, calling for a ceasefire, a complete disarming of militias, an end to foreign intervention in the country and a fair distribution of wealth between various regions within the country.

The presidential spokesman said both leaders also discussed cooperation between the two countries and means to strengthen bilateral relations between them in all fields, especially in the fields of economy, investment and security and in the sectors of health, education and energy.

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