Egypt, Uganda in fresh talks over use of River Nile water: Official

Report
from Xinhua
Published on 04 Nov 2009 View Original
KAMPALA, Nov 04, 2009 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- Egypt and Uganda are in new talks about the use of the River Nile water after previous negotiations with riparian countries failed to reach a compromise, a top Egyptian government official on a visit here said on Wednesday.

Mona Omar, the assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs for African Affairs, told reporters that a delegation of Egyptian experts were sent to Uganda about a week ago with new proposals for a compromise clause into the proposed Nile Water Basin Cooperative Framework agreement.

She did not however reveal what the proposals are but said the Egyptian team had already met its Ugandan counterpart.

"We think that the only way for us the riparian countries is just cooperation, if we don't cooperate then the agreement will be useless," she said.

"We agreed on about 98 percent of the agreement, it is only two or three points that we did not agree on," she added.

Tension has been brewing between Egypt, Sudan and other Nile basin countries including Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, and Ethiopia over the content of colonial agreements that favored Egypt and Sudan over exploitation of the Nile.

The other riparian countries demand an equitable water-sharing pact that would allow for bigger access to Nile water resources for irrigation in view of the persistent drought, which has caused food shortages, leaving millions of people on the verge of starvation.

Egypt argues that the upstream countries have far greater rainfall than it has, but they have hardly any and no other sources of water other than the Nile.

Recent negotiations between Egypt, Sudan and the other countries stalled after the two countries, Egypt and Sudan, declined to sign the new cooperation framework agreement.