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Egypt’s President in Africa, first foreign trip

June 25, 2014

CAIRO (AP) — Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi on Wednesday traveled to Algeria and to Equatorial Guinea to attend an African summit and discuss security and water issues, in his first trip outside the country since he assumed the presidency earlier this month.

El-Sissi told state TV upon landing in Algeria that he came to “coordinate efforts regarding terrorism ... and the situation in Libya.” He didn’t elaborate.

Awash with weapons and militias, Libya has been a major source of smuggled weapons and jihadis to neighboring countries since the fall of longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011. Algeria, like Egypt, shares a long stretch of border with Libya and has suffered from a spillover of the turmoil.

During his presidential campaign, el-Sissi stressed that Egypt must take action regarding Libya while beefing up security along its western borders.

After his Algerian stop, he flew to Equatorial Guinea to attend the African Union summit, his first international meeting since becoming president.

The pan-African bloc has frozen Egypt’s membership after el-Sissi led the army’s ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi last summer after millions of Egyptians demonstrated in the streets and urged him to step down.

After el-Sissi’s election last month, the African Union restored its relations with the country.

Egypt needs the backing of African countries in its negotiations with Ethiopia over a dam the country started building on the River Nile, highly affecting Egypt’s water share. Despite the concerns of Nile-dependent Egypt, Ethiopia —whose economy suffers frequent power failures —has vowed to proceed with the dam, which would be Africa’s biggest hydro-electric power station.

In May last year, Ethiopia started to divert Nile waters to make way for the $4.2 billion dam which, when it is finished, will have the capacity to produce 6,000 megawatts of electricity. Ethiopia’s national electricity corporation says potential buyers of Ethiopia’s electricity will include the two Sudans, Kenya, Djibouti, Somalia, Uganda and even wary Egypt.

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