Egypt FM to visit Ethiopia over Nile dam

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A photo taken on March 31, 2015 shows the Grand Renaissance Dam under construction in Ethiopia near the Sudanese border

A photo taken on March 31, 2015 shows the Grand Renaissance Dam under construction in Ethiopia near the Sudanese border

A photo taken on March 31, 2015 shows the Grand Renaissance Dam under construction in Ethiopia near the Sudanese border

Egypt’s top diplomat is to visit Addis Ababa Tuesday to discuss controversial Ethiopian plans to build a dam on the Nile that Cairo fears will impact its water supplies, his ministry said Monday.

Construction of the massive dam on the Blue Nile in Ethiopia has poisoned relations between the two countries, as Egypt fears its share of water from the Nile will be hit once the project is completed.

Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry’s visit to Addis Ababa is “a new Egyptian move aiming to break the deadlock” in talks with Ethiopia and Sudan over the Grand Renaissance Dam, foreign ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid said.

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The three countries have yet to approve a May report on the social and environmental impacts of the dam’s construction on downstream countries Sudan and Egypt.

Egypt, which is almost totally reliant on the Nile for irrigation and drinking water, says it has “historic rights” to the Nile, guaranteed by treaties from 1929 and 1959.

Cairo argues that the treaties grant it 87 percent of the river’s flow, as well as the power to veto upstream projects.

The Blue and the White Nile tributaries converge in Sudan’s capital Khartoum and from there run north through Egypt to the Mediterranean.

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The dam is designed to feed a hydroelectric project that would produce 6,000 megawatts of power — equivalent to six nuclear-powered plants.

Ethiopia began building the dam in 2012 and initially expected to commission it in 2017.

Ethiopian media reports say that only about 60 percent of the construction has so far been completed.

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