Cairo: Egyptian President Abdul Fattah Al Sissi has said that his country, Sudan and Ethiopia have made a breakthrough in their talks over a contested dam being constructed by Addis Ababa on the River Nile.
Egypt fears that the Grand Renaissance Dam will negatively affect its share of the Nile, its main source of water.
“There is a breakthrough in the crisis of the Renaissance Dam,” Al Sissi said at a televised gathering in Cairo late Wednesday. “Tangible progress was made in the consultative meeting held between the three countries [on Tuesday] in Addis Ababa,” he added without elaborating.
He, however, said that it will take “time and effort” to reach an understanding on the long-running row. Previous talks ended in deadlock between the three riparian countries.
“Egypt is addressing the crisis with calmness and without tensions. It is seeking an understanding and concurrence on the Renaissance Dam in a way that would preserve rights of everyone.”
Al Sissi invited Ethiopia’s new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmad to visit Egypt soon for talks on enhancing ties between the two countries.
Al Sissi’s remarks came shortly after the Egyptian ministers of foreign affairs and water as well as intelligence chiefs of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia agreed at marathon negotiations in Addis Ababa to set up a scientific study group on the controversial issues of filling and operating the dam.
The Egyptian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Cairo will host high-level talks in June and that leaders of three countries will meet every six months to discuss joint cooperation.
Ethiopia has repeatedly denied that the $5-billion (Dh18.36 billion) hydroelectric dam will harm Egypt’s interests and said that the facility is necessary for its development.
Leaders of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia met in Addis Ababa in January amid improved ties between Cairo and Khartoum after months of tensions.