The headquarters of the Egyptian foreign ministry in Cairo (Photo: Reuters)
Egypt's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that it summoned the Ethiopian chargé d'affaires to Cairo on Wednesday to provide clarifications about claims made by the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry's spokesperson on Egypt’s internal affairs.
According to news reports, Dina Mufti, Ethiopia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson, criticised on Tuesday the approach of Egypt to the Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam (GERD), which Ethiopia has started building on the Blue Nile since 2011.
Mufti, who has been Ethiopia’s former ambassador to Cairo, claimed that Egypt "has turned Ethiopia into the threat" and that it would cause thirst and hunger for Egyptians, reflecting the "depth of the internal crisis in Egypt."
He claimed further that [Egypt] is doing this "to distract from internal problems," and blame them on the Rennaisance dam.
His statements came in a press conference in Addis Ababa in which he also announced that the African Union (AU) has called for a meeting next Sunday between Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan to discuss the long-running standoff caused by the GERD.
During the press conference, Mufti said that South Africa, the current chair of the AU, called for a resumption of the negotiations between the three parties after a one-month impasse due to Sudan's withdrawal from the AU-brokered negotiations.
Last month, Sudan decided not to take part in the latest tripartite ministerial meeting on the GERD, which was scheduled for 21 November, objecting to the adopted methodology of negotiations, saying that the "method followed in negotiating during the past rounds has proven to be unproductive."
Egypt and Sudan have been in talks with Ethiopia for years now to reach a legally binding agreement on the filling and operating of the $4.8 billion near-complete mega dam.
South Africa has been mediating negotiations between Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia to resolve the dispute over the near-complete dam, which has been a concern for Cairo and Khartoum since the beginning of its construction.
The earlier round of talks, which was also mediated by South Africa, between the three countries came to an end in August as a result of disagreements on the rules for filling and operating the hydropower project that culminated in non-binding guidelines proposed by Ethiopia which were rejected by Egypt and Sudan, both of whom seek a legally binding agreement.
That round of AU-sponsored talks was launched in July after negotiations between the three countries reached a deadlock last year, as did negotiations sponsored by the US and the World Bank in February.
Cairo fears the massive hydropower project will significantly cut its crucial water supplies from the Nile River, while Sudan fears it could endanger the safety of its own dams.
Ethiopia says the 6,000-megawatt dam is key to its development and hopes to become Africa’s biggest electricity exporter.