Cairo - Egypt said it accepted a US invitation for fresh talks to try and break a deadlock over Ethiopia’s plans for its giant Nile dam, a project that’s ratcheted up tensions between the two African nations.
The offer comes just before Egyptian President Abdul Fattah Al Sissi and Ethiopian premier Abiy Ahmad are due to meet in Russia to discuss the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. Addis Ababa says the hydro-power project is critical to develop its economy, but Cairo worries it will create a water crisis in the North African nation.
Egypt’s Foreign Ministry, while accepting the US invitation for the meeting with Ethiopia and mutual neighbour Sudan, also criticised comments by Abiy on Tuesday, in which he said his country could “line up many millions of people” in the event of any military confrontation.
Both nations have downplayed any talk of conflict and stressed the need for dialogue. Recent weeks, however, have seen them fail to agree on a strategy for filling the dam’s reservoir, a process key to ensuring there’s a reliable flow of Nile water to downstream nations.
Ethiopia maintains the dam would benefit the region by providing electricity and regulating the water’s flow to avoid flooding.
Abiy’s reported comments “included negative signals and unacceptable insinuations pertaining to the manner” in which the GERD issue is being dealt with, the Foreign Ministry said.
It added that the remarks were surprising, coming shortly after Abiy was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize - an honour that “should have prompted the Ethiopian side to demonstrate political will, flexibility, and good faith toward reaching a binding and comprehensive legal agreement” that would be in the interests of all countries involved.