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African Leaders Discuss Nile River Dispute

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VOA News - May 23, 2010

Joseph Kabila and Hosni Mubarak

Egypt's president has met with leaders of Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo to discuss a dispute over the Nile River.

This month, Kenya and four other African nations signed an agreement to re-examine how the river's waters are shared. Congo and Burundi have promised to sign within a year.

A current treaty, dating from 1929, gives Egypt the majority of the water. Egypt wants to maintain what it calls its historic rights.

Egypt's official news agency says President Hosni Mubarak had separate meetings in Cairo Sunday with Congolese President Joseph Kabila and Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

The agency said Presidents Mubarak and Kabila discussed the Nile Basin issue, but gave no details. It said Mr. Mubarak's meeting with Mr. Odinga touched on cooperation among Nile Basin counties.

An agreement known as the Nile Basin Initiative has been signed by Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. The Nile River flows through or near all of those countries before heading into Sudan and then Egypt.

The deal calls for experts to determine how to fairly share the Nile's resources.

Egypt has not formally rejected the deal but is concerned about any change to the current arrangement.

The country has almost 80 million people, and officials there are concerned that there may not be enough water to sustain the growing population.


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