Egyptian FM Shoukry to attend tripartite meeting in Khartoum on Nile dam deadlock

Ahram Online , Tuesday 3 Apr 2018

Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry (Reuters)

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry is due to fly to Khartoum on Wednesday, the foreign ministry said, for talks with Sudanese and Ethiopian officials aimed at resolving an impasse over the hydroelectric dam Addis Ababa is building on a Nile tributary.

The gathering will include foreign and water ministers as well as intelligence officials from the three countries, in a fresh bid to end a standoff in negotiations over the $4 billion Grand Renaissance Dam over the Blue Nile, which Egypt fears could greatly diminish its share of Nile water.

The meeting was originally scheduled to take place in late February after the leaders of the three countries agreed to set a one-month deadline to lay out ways to end the stalemate, but was deferred upon Ethiopia's request following the resignation of its prime minister.

In November of last year, delegations from Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia met in Cairo to approve a study by a French firm tasked with assessing the environmental and economic impact of the dam on downstream countries. But negotiations stalled when the three countries failed to reach consensus on an initial report.

This week's gathering mainly aims to reach an agreement on the preliminary report so the "studies on the impact of the dam on downstream countries of Egypt and Sudan can be initiated immediately," Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid said in the statement on Tuesday.

Cairo fears the 6,000-megawatt dam will reduce the supply of Nile water, which it relies on for drinking water and irrigation. Egypt has also expressed concerns over the speed at which the dam's reservoir will be filled.

During the meeting, Egypt will stress on complying with an agreement signed by all three countries in 2015 to ensure diplomatic cooperation mainly with regard to completing the dam studies "to guarantee to avoid any possible negative impacts on the two downstream countries," the spokesman added.

Financed solely by Ethiopia, the dam is now over 60 percent complete.

Ethiopia, which hopes to become Africa's largest power exporter, maintains that the project will not harm Egypt.

Sudan has backed the dam, saying it will provide the country with energy and irrigation.

The Egyptian spokesman said Tuesday that Cairo is looking towards boosting cooperation with Sudan and Ethiopia in all areas, namely investment, trade and technical cooperation.

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