Egypt’s president on Monday hosted his Djiboutian counterpart for talks on improving ties and a controversial dam that Ethiopia is building on the Nile River’s main tributary, which Egypt deems an existential threat, Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh landed in the Egyptian capital of Cairo on Sunday. He was received at the airport by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
Guelleh’s visit comes more than eight months after al-Sisi paid a rare visit to the strategic Horn of African nation.
Al-Sisi was the first Egyptian leader to visit Djibouti since it declared independence in 1977. It was part of Egypt’s efforts to build more African alliances during an ongoing water dispute with Ethiopia, which borders Djibouti.
The Egyptian leader reiterated his country's demand for a legally binding deal on the filling and operation of the massive reservoir of Ethiopia’s $4.6 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.
Al-Sisi said such a deal should be within a convenient timespan to help “bolster regional security and stability.”
The dam dispute talks between Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan stalled in April last year. Both Egypt and Sudan have repeatedly called for the international community to help reach a legally binding deal that would spell out how the dam is operated and filled.
International and regional efforts have since attempted without success to revive the negotiations amid the Tigray civil war in Ethiopia.
The leaders of Egypt and Djibouti also discussed the security of the Red Sea and the strategic Horn of Africa, al-Sisi said without elaborating.
Guelleh described the talks as “constructive and fruitful,” saying that they discussed ways to “reinforce and develop our bilateral relations on all levels.”
The two leaders spoke in a televised news conference. But neither president took questions from reporters.
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