CAIRO — Egypt has criticized reports blaming it for the failure of recent talks with Ethiopia and Sudan to reach an agreement over Ethiopia’s massive dam under construction on a Nile River tributary, and called for a new round of talks to be held in Cairo.
Last week’s discussions included chiefs of intelligence and ministers of foreign affairs and irrigation in Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia, and were the latest attempt to resolve the lingering dispute over the dam’s downstream impact. The meeting took place in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, and lasted about 15 hours but ended with no deal.
Egypt fears the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam would impact its share of the Nile River, which serves as a lifeline for the country’s 100 million people. Ethiopia, like Egypt, has said that the dam issue is a “matter of life or death.” Sudan appears to be taking Ethiopia’s side of the negotiations.
Egypt’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement Thursday that it participated in last week’s meeting “with a positive spirit and a serious desire to reach an agreement.” It was released after reports emerged suggesting that Egypt is responsible for hampering the negotiations.
Ethiopia’s official news agency, ENA, quoted its Foreign Ministry spokesman Meles Alem as saying that Egypt brought up the 1959 accord between Egypt and Sudan during the talks. Egypt receives the lion’s share of the Nile’s waters under that agreement, seen by other Nile nations including Ethiopia as unfair and ignoring their own large populations’ needs.
“Ethiopia’s initiation to minimize any significant harm to downstream countries has long been expressed practically and will continue,” Alem said. “But there will never be negotiation on any agreement that we were never part (of).”
Egypt, however, denied the “accuracy” of the reports and said Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry’s call for another meeting with his Sudanese and Ethiopian counterparts in Cairo serves as “clear evidence” of its keenness to reach a deal.
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