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Sharm el-Sheikh--Water affairs ministers from the Nile Basin countries have discussed the establishment of a high commission at a two-day meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh which began Tuesday. The commission would aim to improve cooperation around water, investment, commerce, and electricity, within a policy framework of "profit for all member states."
Sources at the meeting said the ministers will issue a statement outlining future means of cooperation, through which water-related projects in each country will not threaten the security of other member states.
They also said ministers have agreed to avoid discussion about previous agreements signed between downstream and upstream states, as the high commission would ensure that no member state's water security is jeopardized.
Egyptian Water Resources and Irrigation Minister Mohamed Nasr Eddin Allam expressed hope that discussions would lead to decisions that could be productively built upon at the next meeting in Addis Ababa in July.
He mentioned that Egypt and Sudan had proposed the establishment of a high commission to undertake development projects in the member states, and requested that negotiations about pending issues in the framework agreement continue.
"We need to cooperate so as to achieve a unified vision for all member states," he said.
Allam presented a list of Egypt's achievements during the period in which he chaired the Nile Council of Ministers, one of the main institutions of the Nile Basin Initiative. These achievements included a unanimous agreement among all member states to work collectively for a unified Nile Basin, and the establishment of procedures for member states to form a high commission that safeguards their common interests.
"The continuous interaction between member states has generated trust and has brought together different points of view," Allam said, highlighting Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif's visit to Ethiopia last December in search of investment opportunities for Egyptian companies in various Nile Basin countries.
The Ethiopian Irrigation Minister agreed that member states should continue negotiations over a comprehensive cooperation agreement for the benefit of all Nile Basin countries and their people.
Sudanese Irrigation Minister Kamal Aly, for his part, called on the member states to approve the Egyptian-Sudanese proposal in order to safeguard the achievements made in the past ten years.
However, sources said there is no rush for member states to sign a comprehensive framework agreement, as the various projects undertaken by each country will inevitably bring them closer on all related issues.
Translated from the Arabic Edition.