Egypt's foreign ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid said on Wednesday that his country and Ethiopia must press ahead with diplomatic efforts and maintain regular communication to protect their mutual interests, seemingly referring to Addis Ababa’s disputed dam project on the Nile river.
The statement came a day after Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and Intelligence Chief Abbas Kamel met with Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in Addis Ababa to follow up on talks over the Grand Renaissance Dam, Ethiopia's $4 billion hydroelectric mega project.
"Strategic partnership, achieving mutual gains and preserving the interests of each party require active diplomacy and constant communication, and is a historical responsibility of both the Egyptian and Ethiopian sides," the spokesman said on Twitter, describing Tuesday's meeting as "important."
Egypt and Ethiopia have agreed during the fresh talks in the Ethiopian capital to "overcome any obstacles" during negotiations over the dam, which Cairo fears could diminish its water share of the Nile, its main source of potable water. Addis Ababa maintains that the project will not reduce Egypt's water supplies and will boost Ethiopia’s development.
The two sides stressed the importance of "reaching the desired understanding over the Renaissance Dam in a way that ensures achieving Ethiopia's development while preserving Egypt’s water security," Egypt's ministry said on Tuesday.
The two sides also stressed they aim to take steps to set up a proposed fund to invest in development projects in Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan and agreed to boost trade exchange and Egyptian investment in Addis Ababa.
During Tuesday's talks, the officials discussed efforts to implement a 2015 agreement signed by Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan over Nile water rights, which broke months-long deadlock in May.
The agreement includes a host of decisions made by the three nations, including setting up a scientific study group focusing on the process of filling the reservoir of the 6,000-megawatt dam.
The talks on Tuesday came days after Abiy said that the ongoing construction of the dam, which Ethiopia hopes will become Africa's largest power generator and exporter, is facing delays due to its faulty design.
In June, Abiy and El-Sisi signaled during talks in Cairo that they had made a breakthrough to resolve differences over the dam project. The Egyptian president said at the time that the two countries have come a long way in building confidence and strengthening their bilateral cooperation. Abiy said his country was committed to securing Egypt's share of Nile water.
The two leaders are expected to meet in September on the sidelines of a China-Africa cooperation forum in Beijing.