FILE PHOTO: Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam is seen as it undergoes construction work on the river Nile in Guba Woreda, Benishangul Gumuz Region, Ethiopia September 26, 2019. REUTERS
Egypt has accused Ethiopia of "deliberately" impeding the course of negotiations on a disputed Nile dam project after Addis Ababa withdrew from the latest round of US-sponsored talks last week.
Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan were expected to sign a final deal on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) during the two-day talks that concluded on Friday, but Ethiopia skipped the meetings citing incomplete domestic discussions.
In a joint statement released on Sunday, Egypt's foreign and irrigation ministries expressed deep "displeasure and rejection" of a statement issued by Ethiopia following the talks, in which it vowed to commence filling the dam despite the lack of a final agreement with Egypt and Sudan.
The ministries said Ethiopia was "deliberately absent to impede the course of the negotiations".
Egypt said it was "surprising" that Ethiopia cited the need for more time to deliberate the matter "after more than five years of full engagement in intensive negotiations that addressed all dimensions and details of this issue."
It dismissed the Ethiopian remarks as "fallacies and distortion of facts", adding that they signal "clear disavowal of Ethiopia's obligations" under international law and a 2015 deal on the equitable use of the Nile waters.
The Egyptian statement said that the “fair and balanced” agreement the US crafted has been developed with the full participation of Ethiopia after four months of negotiations.
Egypt signed the deal and called on Ethiopia and Sudan to do the same.
Ethiopia hopes the dam will make it a regional energy hub, but Cairo fears the project will significantly diminish its water supplies from the Nile.