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Sudan, Egypt may call on Arab League over Nile dam

Egyptian ambassador argues diversion of Blue Nile for Ethiopian dam is 'not a recent decision' but anonymous foreign ministry source describes 'shock and surprise'

Ahram Online , Tuesday 28 May 2013
 Kamal Hassan
Sudan's ambassador to Egypt Kamal Hassan (Photo: Ahram)
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Sudan's ambassador to Egypt, Kamal Hassan, stated on Tuesday that Egypt and Sudan may call for intervention by the Arab League in response to the diversion of the Blue Nile on Tuesday at the construction site of a new Ethiopian dam project.

"There are continuous calls between the Egyptian and the Sudanese authorities to look into Ethiopia's sudden and shocking decision," Hassan told Turkish news agency Anadolu.

He added that the tripartite committee looking into the dam project, which includes members from Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia, is still in place and negotiations will remain ongoing. A report is expected from the committee in the next few days.

An anonymous source within Egypt's foreign ministry told Al-Ahram’s Arabic news website on Tuesday that Egypt is “shocked and surprised” by the step taken by Ethiopia.

The source further stressed that Egypt's irrigation minister would need to account for the details of recent negotiations on the issue, especially as the incident has taken place only a day after President Mohamed Morsi's visit to Ethiopia for an African Union summit.

However, Egypt's ambassador to Ethiopia, Mohamed Idris, stated that the decision to divert the Blue Nile was neither a recent decision nor a surprise. He further clarified that Egypt would continue to receive its full quota of 55 billion cubic metres of Nile water regardless of the work on the dam.

Ethiopia on announced on Monday it would begin on Tuesday to divert the course of the Blue Nile, one of the Nile River’s two major tributaries, as part of its project to build a new dam.

The majority of the Nile water that reaches Egypt and Sudan orginates in the Blue Nile.

The Renaissance Dam has been a source of concern for the Egyptian government, amid sensitivities about any effect on the volume of water that will reach Egypt if the project is completed.

The dam is one of four hydro-electric power projects planned to be constructed in Ethiopia.

Egypt will need an additional 21 billion cubic metres of water per year by 2050, on top of its current quota of 55 billion metres, to meet the water needs of a projected population of 150 million people, according to Egypt's National Planning Institute.

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