Egypt's irrigation minister says that Egyptian officials have "cautious optimism" regarding their upcoming talks with Sudanese and Ethiopian officials over the latter's ongoing Nile dam project.
The discussions in the Sudanese capital Khartoum – starting on 26 August – are part of longstanding efforts between the three countries to reach a consensus on Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam, set to be the biggest hydroelectric dam in Africa and a source of concern for officials in Cairo, who worry that their access to the Nile's water will be impeded.
"We are optimistic that we are going to reach an agreement regarding the Grand Renaissance Dam crisis," Hossam Moghazi, irrigation minister, said in a lengthy interview published in Al-Ahram's daily newspaper on Tuesday.
"The talks in Khartoum can work out, but this is cautious optimism," he said, adding that he will raise his scientific and technical concerns as well ideas regarding tripartite cooperation during the discussions.
Moghazi also revealed in the interview that in the next 10 days Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi will meet with members of Egypt's technical committee that will participate in the talks "to discuss the latest developments … as well the Egyptian plan to face the impacts of the" dam.
"We (the irrigation ministry) are ready for all scenarios," he said.
The minister stressed that time was running out, saying that the talks will pick up where they last left off, instead of from square one.
If an agreement is reached, he said, Egypt will ask Sudan and Ethiopia to join an "economic bloc" for cooperation on "all kinds of projects" and that will be a strong economic power in north and east Africa.