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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 25 June 2018

Three-nation talks on Ethiopia dam fail to reach agreement

Egypt fears reduced water supply as a result of hydroelectric project

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry attends talks with Sudan and Ethiopia in the Sudanese capital Khartoum on April 5, 2018 to discuss on Ethiopia's dam being built on the Blue Nile. Ashraf Shazly / AFP
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry attends talks with Sudan and Ethiopia in the Sudanese capital Khartoum on April 5, 2018 to discuss on Ethiopia's dam being built on the Blue Nile. Ashraf Shazly / AFP

Talks in Khartoum between Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt to resolve differences over a dam Ethiopia is building ended early on Friday without agreement, the Sudanese foreign minister said.

Egypt and Ethiopia are at loggerheads over the construction of the Grand Renaissance Dam, a $4 billion hydroelectric project that Cairo fears will reduce waters that run to its fields and reservoirs from Ethiopia’s highlands and via Sudan.

Addis Ababa denies the dam on the Blue Nile will undermine Egypt's access to water. Ties between Egypt and Sudan were strained when Khartoum backed the dam because of its need for electricity.

The issue is being closely followed in Nile capitals that are dependent on the river for irrigation and drinking water.

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Read more: Will the Nile bring Egypt to the brink of another political crisis, this time with Sudan?

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"We were not able to reach an agreement on a joint decision, and it's a technical issue that we cannot discuss," Sudanese Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour told reporters after the talks that began on Thursday morning and lasted about 16 hours.

Mr Ghandour said the talks on the dam were constructive and important, but more time was needed, Khartoum's state news agency SUNA said.

The talks were attended by the foreign ministers, irrigation ministers and intelligence chiefs of the three countries.

Mr Ghandour said no date has been set for further discussions, but irrigation ministers are planning to meet at some point for more talks on the matter.