Tue, Mar 29, 2011 - Page 6 News List

Egypt will recognize new South Sudan state: minister

EXCESS BAGGAGE:With Egypt’s foreign minister on a trip to the newly created state, the South Sudanese government gave the visitors a very generous gift — 5,000 cows

Reuters, KHARTOUM

Egypt will recognize South Sudan as an independent state after it voted to secede from Sudan, Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Elaraby said on his first visit abroad since an uprising ousted former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.

The new Egyptian government also said it would introduce a new proposal to Nile Basin nations to try to overcome a stalemate on sharing the river’s waters, as a seven-minister delegation headed by Egypt’s prime minister arrived in Khartoum on Sunday.

“Sudan intends to be the first to recognize Juba [the capital of South Sudan] and Egypt intends to be the second to recognize the South,” Elaraby said in Khartoum.

The delegation was to visit Juba yesterday.

Egypt had pressed for its ally Sudan to remain united to preserve 1929 and 1955 Nile Basin treaties which allocated the lion’s share of river waters to Egypt and its -southern neighbor Sudan.

However, after decades of north-south civil war, Southern Sudanese voted to become independent on July 9.

South Sudan has not declared a position on sharing Nile waters, but most analysts believe it is likely to side with its east African allies.

They have signed a new treaty aimed at ensuring what they say would be a more equitable distribution of the water, worrying Egypt which is struggling to grow food for its burgeoning population.

“We will be offering a new proposal to the Nile Basin states ... and we hope to find a solution which will not harm any nation,” Egyptian Water Resources and Irrigation Minister Hussein Ehsan el-Atfi told reporters in Khartoum.

He did not go into details, but Egyptian government spokesman Magdy Rady said an unfinished and long-stalled project to create the Jonglei Canal in South Sudan, which would channel swamp water back into the Nile, would be discussed in Juba.

“This is still a project — we spent a lot of money on it and there’s still a little money left to finish it,” he said, “This project — if we finish it — it will provide 4 billion extra [liters of water a year].”

“This will be divided between Egypt and South Sudan — if they are not in urgent need of it, we are in urgent need of it,” Rady added.

The two neighbors also agreed a memorandum to connect their national grids, officials from Sudan and Egypt said.

“Egypt is trying to play a pivotal role in energy to be a hub for the region ... now we are going to Africa through Sudan,” Rady said.

Sudan gave Egypt 5,000 cows as a gift to the new government.

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