Egypt says no worthwhile progress in dam talks with Ethiopia

Addis Ababa has gone back on some of the 'accommodations' reached earlier, says Egypt

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile. Reuters
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The latest round of talks between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia on the dispute over a Nile dam being built by Addis Ababa has made no tangible progress, Egypt said on Sunday night.

Egypt and Sudan maintain the nearly completed Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam will reduce their vital share of the Nile's water, with Egypt warning it could wipe out millions of jobs in its agricultural sector and disrupt the nation's delicate food balance.

Sudan says the dam, built on the Blue Nile barely 20km from its eastern border, would pose a threat to its water security, increase the risk of flooding and disrupt the operation of its hydroelectric dams.

“The just concluded round of talks did not make any worthwhile progress,” Egypt's Water and Irrigation Ministry said.

“The talks witnessed Ethiopia going back on a number of accommodations previously reached between the three nations during the negotiating process,” it said, without giving details.

“Ethiopia has meanwhile rejected suggested compromises on offer as well as internationally recognised technical arrangements that will satisfy Ethiopia's dam-related interests while not harming the rights and interests of the two downstream nations.”

The latest round of talks was held in Addis Ababa, less than a month after an earlier one in Cairo, which also ended without a breakthrough.

The talks in Cairo last month were the first since April 2021, when negotiations held in Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, collapsed in acrimony.

Egypt and Sudan insist that Addis Ababa should enter a legally binding agreement on the filling and operation of the $5 billion dam and agree to mechanisms on how prolonged drought could be dealt with.

Ethiopia, however, maintains that recommendations, rather than a binding agreement, should suffice and insists that the dam and its operation are matters of national sovereignty.

It has also sought to reassure the two downstream nations that no harm would come to them from the hydroelectric dam.

There was no immediate comment from Sudan or Ethiopia on the latest round of talks.

Updated: September 24, 2023, 7:49 PM