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Egypt’s Sisi meets with Ethiopian Orthodox Patriarch

25 March 2015

Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi on Tuesday held talks with Abune Mathias, patriarch of Ethiopia’s Orthodox Church.

Following the talks, the patriarch told reporters that he had exchanged views with al-Sisi about a declaration of principles recently signed between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan on Ethiopia’s mega-dam on the Nile River, which Egypt had feared could substantially reduce its share of Nile water.

“The Nile is a God-given common resource; the riparian countries should make use of it equitably,” Mathias said.

The talks also tackled means of strengthening people-to-people ties between Ethiopia and Egypt, he added.

“We also discussed ways of bolstering ties between the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo Church and the Egyptian Coptic Church,” he noted.

Ethiopian Ambassador to Egypt Mohamoud Dirir, who attended the talks, said the meeting had focused on the historic ties between Ethiopia and Egypt.

Al-Sisi is currently on a three-day state visit to Ethiopia – his first since coming to power last year.

Earlier Tuesday, al-Sisi met with Ethiopian President Mulatu Teshome and Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.

Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance Dam has been at the center of a diplomatic row between Cairo and Addis Ababa for several months.

While Ethiopia views the dam as a prerequisite for its economic development, Egypt fears the project could lead to a marked reduction in its traditional share of Nile water.

Relations between the two countries have improved, however, since al-Sisi and Desalegn met last summer on the sidelines of an African summit in Equatorial Guinea.

Until 1959, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church had been a part of Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church.

By Tesfa Mogessie

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