Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 7 December 2019

Egypt accepts invitation to meet in US over Ethiopia dam dispute

Egypt is concerned the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam will restrict water supplies

The construction site of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam in Guba in the North West of Ethiopia, seen in November 2017.  AP
The construction site of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam in Guba in the North West of Ethiopia, seen in November 2017.  AP

Egypt said on Tuesday it accepted a US invitation to a meeting of foreign ministers about a giant hydropower dam on Ethiopia's Blue Nile that is causing an increasing dispute between the two countries.

The meeting of the foreign ministers of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan, the three nations directly affected by the project, will be held in Washington, Egypt's Foreign Ministry said.

It is not clear whether the other two nations have accepted the invitation.

Egypt is worried that the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which is being built near Ethiopia's border with Sudan, will restrict supplies of scarce Nile water on which it is almost entirely dependent.

After years of three-way talks with Ethiopia and Sudan, Cairo says it has exhausted efforts to reach an agreement on conditions for operating the dam and filling the reservoir behind it.

Ethiopia says the dam is crucial to its economic development and has denied that talks between the three are stalled, accusing Egypt of trying to sidestep the process.

Addis Ababa will not be stopped from building the dam, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said on Tuesday.

Mr Abiy, who won the Nobel Peace Prize this month for his reconciliation efforts with long-standing enemy Eritrea, raised the prospect of conflict over the dam.

"If we are going to war we can deploy many millions," he said. "But war is not a solution."

Egypt criticised the comments as "unacceptable".

"Egypt expressed its shock, great concern and deep regret over comments conveyed by media and attributed to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed," the Foreign Ministry said.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi is expected to meet Mr Abiy during a Russia-Africa summit this week.

Egypt has suggested bringing in an outside party, possibly the World Bank or the US, to mediate the dispute.

Ethiopia previously rejected a mediator.

Updated: October 23, 2019 10:01 AM

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