Egypt’s share of the Nile's water is a "a matter of life or death for the nation," Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said on Saturday in his first comments on the Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam (GERD) since negotiations between Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia stalled over the project last week.
In televised comments during the inauguration of the Middle East's largest fish farm in Kafr El-Sheikh, El-Sisi said Egyptians should "rest assured " since “no one can touch Egypt’s share of [Nile] water.”
"We've talked to our brothers in Sudan and Ethiopia from the very beginning about three points, including not touching the water [of Egypt's share]," he said.
The president added that he understands the developmental goals behind the GERD, but that development for Ethiopia in this case is a "matter of life and death" for Egypt.
Last week, negotiations between the three countries broke down over how to conduct technical studies of the dam's potential impact on downstream countries.
Egyptian officials have expressed concern over repeated delays, especially given that construction of the dam is already well underway.
Next month, President El-Sisi and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn are scheduled to meet in Cairo to discuss the deadlock.
The dam, situated near Ethiopia's border with Sudan, is slated for completion this year and expected to generate 6,000 megawatts of electricity.
Ethiopia hopes to be able to export electricity generated by the dam, which will be the largest hydroelectric power plant in Africa.
Egypt, however, has expressed concerns that the dam might reduce its share of Nile water.
Ethiopia maintains that the dam will not have any negative impact on Egypt or Sudan.