05/23/2010 16:35

Egypt considers agreement on “red line” issue, compromise on “historic” water rights.

CAIRO — Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Sunday discussed with his counterpart from the Congo and the prime Minster of Kenya the lingering crisis over sharing the waters of the Nile river.

Egypt said it is carefully weighing its response to a new agreement signed by five upriver countries which could affect its current majority share of the river’s waters.

Egypt’s Middle East News Agency said Mubarak, Kenya’s Raila Odinga and Congolese President Joseph Kabila reviewed in two separate meetings cooperation between Egypt and other Nile basin countries “in irrigation and agriculture.”

Egypt initially shunned the framework agreement, signed earlier this month by Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania, because it fails to protect what Cairo calls its “historic” water rights.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said Saturday talks with the signatories are ongoing to determine whether Egypt will stay out of the agreement, formally called the “Nile Basin initiative.”

Egyptian officials have said the agreement could still be amended, calling the Nile waters a “red line” or a national security issue for their country.