November 20, 2014 (JUBA) - South Sudan’s president Salva Kiir is in the Egyptian capital, Cairo for bilateral talks with his counterpart, Abdel Fattah Saeed Hussein Khalil el-Sisi.
- South Sudanese president Salva Kiir on 12 December 2013 (Photo: AP/Sayyid Azim)
Kiir was accompanied by a high level government delegation, which included business community members and representative from the security sector institutions.
The visit, extended by the Egyptian leader, is president’s Kiir first ever since his country gained independence from neighbouring Sudan in July 2011.
“This is a respond to invitation extended to the president by the president of Egypt and his government. It will be a three day visit during which the president and the accompanying delegation will have the opportunity to hold frank and open discussions on bilateral matters," said South Sudan’s foreign minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin.
"The discussions will focus mainly on trade and investment in agriculture, health, power and electricity and education”, he added.
A spokesperson for the foreign affairs ministry, in a separate interview, described as "cordial" and "friendly" relations between South Sudan and Egypt.
“Ties between the countries are increasingly growing well at all levels and the president of the president with such a high government delegation confirms the kind of relations we have with Egypt”, Mawien Makol told Sudan Tribune on Thursday.
It however remains unclear whether the young nation would seek military assistance from the North African country, given that its defense minister recently struck a military cooperation agreement with Cairo. Egypt reportedly even promised to send its troops to war-torn South Sudan at the latter’s request.
NILE WATER ROW
Analysts say the military cooperation agreement between Egypt and South Sudan is a test of its seemingly dwindling relation with Ethiopia, especially at the time when Egypt threatened military action against Addis Ababa over its controversial Renaissance dam.
Egypt continues to develop relations with South Sudan in an effort to protect Egyptian water interests within its borders, through which the White Nile flows. This comes at a time when the dispute between Cairo and Addis Ababa over the Nile’s waters is escalating.
“If you have been following close, it seems that South Sudan is distancing itself from Ethiopia because any deal involving Egypt must have a relation to its confrontation with Ethiopia over Nile water. Such a deal is part of a political measure Egypt wants to apply on Ethiopia that ranges strengthening economic and military ties with all countries neigbouring Ethiopia”, an analyst toldSudan Tribune on Thursday
The analyst, who preferred to remain anonymous, said South Sudan has constantly been under pressure from Ethiopia to sign for the Nile Basin Cooperation Framework Agreement (CFA), that seeks to strip off Egypt’s colonial right over the Nile River.
“South Sudan has no leverage upon Ethiopia to counter its systematic political and economic pressure. As it has been observed in recent times, Ethiopia, along with United States, have tried to frustrate the government in Juba through dragging the peace talks, demanding withdrawal of foreign troops and covertly provides support to the armed opposition with weapons through its peacekeeping mission in the country,” he observed.