CAIRO: Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi held talks on Thursday with his counterpart in Djibouti, Ismail Omar Guelleh, as part of Cairo’s diplomatic attempts to build more African alliances amid an ongoing water dispute with Ethiopia.
The Egyptian and Djiboutian leaders discussed the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) dispute and the Red Sea security.
It was the first time El-Sisi had visited Djibouti as the Egyptian president discussed and exchanged views on the most important developments regarding regional issues of common interest. He also confirmed that constructive bilateral discussions were held with the Djiboutian president.
Both leaders stressed their “strategic partnership” on fighting terror in the Horn of Africa and underscored their cooperation over security issues in the Red Sea and the Bab Al-Mandeb Strait.
With the aim of enhancing stability in Arab and African surroundings, the two presidents agreed to intensify efforts in the field of combating extremist ideology.
“Our bilateral discussions today were about the exceptional circumstances that the East and Horn of Africa region are going through,” El-Sisi said. “We are experiencing a number of conflicts along with the challenges of stabilizing security and stability in some of its countries.”
The talks dealt with ways to strengthen and develop bilateral relations between Egypt and Djibouti at various political, economic, security and military levels.
“We agreed on the importance of intensifying cooperation between the two countries regarding the security of the Red Sea, as an important strategic passageway of great importance to both sides,” El-Sisi said in a joint press conference.
“I also reviewed GERD developments, which is an issue that affects the vital interests of the entire region.”
The president said he stressed the significance of reaching a fair and balanced agreement on the dam at the earliest possible opportunity. Ethiopia began building the 1.8 kilometer-long dam in 2011.
The agreement should fulfill the interests of all countries and peoples of the region, the president said.
“I also affirmed Egypt's rejection of any effort to impose a fait accompli through unilateral measures that do not take into account the interests and rights of the two downstream countries,” El-Sisi said.
The two sides also agreed to focus on ways of increasing the rates of trade exchange between the two countries, as well as intensifying training programs provided by the Egyptian Agency of Partnership for Development.
El-Sisi indicated that he and Guelleh agreed on the need to increase Egyptian investments in Djibouti and allow Egyptian companies to contribute to infrastructure projects.
The leaders also agreed on the importance of expediting the procedures for the establishment of the Egyptian logistics zone in Djibouti during the coming period to facilitate the export of various Egyptian goods.
They aim to strengthen cooperation in the priority sectors, especially in the field of transport and linking ports, as well as in the field of fish farming.
In the field of health, coordination is also underway between the two sides to establish an Egyptian hospital in Djibouti.