Egypt welcomes more 'serious' talks on Ethiopia dam

Ahram Online, Wednesday 19 Feb 2014

Egypt underlines that it is open to negotiations on the Nile water crisis spurred by Ethiopia's planned Renaissance Dam, but that any such negotiations have to be 'serious'

Egypt's interim cabinet reiterated the country will show no leniency nor make concessions in the ongoing water saga with Ethiopia, adding however that it fully supports the interests of Nile Basin countries.
The statement was released one day after Minister of Irrigation Mohamed Abdel-Motteleb said Egypt may in a few days send an official statement demanding that construction of the Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam be halted until a mutually agreeable solution is found.
After several rounds of talks that have ended in stalemate, the statement underlined that Egypt is still willing to respond to serious negotiations with Ethiopia and Sudan, and develop its cooperation with both countries in a way that preserves its national security.
The planned Renaissance Dam is a $4.2 billion hydro-electric project on the Blue Nile, one of the main tributaries of the Nile. The project has been a source of concern for the Egyptian government since May 2013, when images of the dam's construction stirred public anxiety about possible effects on Egypt's share of Nile water, the country's main source of potable water.
Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan formed a tripartite technical committee to study the possible effects of the Renaissance Dam and to try to reach consensus on the project. Ethiopia maintains that Egypt's water share will not be negatively affected by the successful completion of the project.
In recent meetings in Khartoum, the tripartite committee was scheduled to agree on a document that entails "confidence building measures" between the countries, and also to form a special international conflict resolution committee.
However, the tripartite committee's success was thwarted last December when Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir announced his support for the dam, during a meeting with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.
Last month, Khaled Waseef, a spokesperson for the Egyptian ministry of irrigation, said that the Renaissance Dam faces financial as well as technical problems, and that the Ethiopian government's statements that the project has been 30 percent completed are a "media show" for its own political gains.
For his part, Ethiopian Irrigation Minister Alamayo Tegno said his country is committed to the recommendations of an international committee of experts on the matter.
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