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Egypt's top spy chief, finance minister in East Africa to discuss water

Omar Suleiman,head of Egypt's intelligence services

Omar Suleiman, director of the Egyptian General Intelligence Services, was sent to Uganda today to discuss the escalating Nile water crisis with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni. Suleiman is the second top-level Egyptian official sent in the last 24 hours by President Hosni Mubarak to meet with an East African head of state.

Finance Minister Youssef Boutros-Ghali was sent to Burundi yesterday to dissuade the small African nation from joining a water pact launched by upstream states in defiance of Egypt and Sudan. His visit comes ahead of a meeting of member states in Ethiopia this week.

The Egyptian government aims to convince Burundian officials not the sign the Entebbe Framework Agreement, a water sharing accord recently concluded by four East African states--Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda, and Tanzania. Sudan and Egypt strongly oppose the agreement which would reallocate water quotas between the basin states.

According to a study by a French international consultant office, the Entebbe agreement would be internationally recognized once six countries sign it, even if disputes linger around some of the terms of agreement.

In related news, President Hosni Mubarak--who returned from Khartoum yesterday--has discussed plans with Irrigation Minister Mohamed Nasr Eddin Allam to meet Sudanese and Egyptian water needs.

Mubarak has instructed Allam to attend the Ethiopia meeting to discuss joint projects and new solutions for current conflict between downstream and upstream states.

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