File Photo: US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, right, shakes hands with Egypt's Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry at the State Department in Washington, Feb. 27, 2017 (Photo: AP)
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry informed Sunday US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson of a deadlock in the process of carrying out studies on the effects of the Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam (GERD) on downstream countries.
In an official statement, Egypt’s foreign ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid said Shoukry had received a phone call from Tillerson, where the Egyptian foreign minister spoke about the “strained technical path related to preparing studies on the effect of the dam on downstream countries, as well as ways to avoid them.”
Shoukry expressed "extreme concern" to his US counterpart, citing Egypt’s full dependence on Nile water as its sole source of water.
According to the statement, the two spoke further about the matter, agreeing on the importance of full commitment from all sides to the 2015 Declaration of Principles signed between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia.
Other developments in the region were also brought up in the phone call, including the Lebanese crisis and its impact, Iranian interference shaking the stability of several Arab countries and the security and humanitarian repercussions of the Yemeni crisis.
Sunday’s phone call comes one day after Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi spoke of the GERD impasse for the first time since negotiations between the involved countries stalled last week.
El-Sisi said that while he understands the developmental goals behind GERD, Egypt’s share of the Nile water is a "a matter of life or death for the nation".
Last week, negotiations between the three countries broke down over how to conduct technical studies of the dam's potential impact on downstream countries.
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.