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Egypt ready to resume talks with Ethiopia, Sudan over Nile dam

After a tense dispute at the UN Security Council earlier this month, Cairo says it's now ready to go back to the negotiating table.
Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam is seen as it undergoes construction work on the river Nile in Guba Woreda, Benishangul Gumuz Region, Ethiopia September 26, 2019. Picture taken September 26, 2019. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri - RC1BF04BBB80

Egypt’s government announced it is ready to revive negotiations with Ethiopia and Sudan over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam after the dispute reached the United Nations Security Council earlier this month.

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry’s statement came after Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed agreed on Thursday to trilateral talks between the countries’ irrigation ministers, Ahram Online reported.

Egypt’s government has strongly opposed Ethiopia’s plan to fill the dam, construction of which began in 2011. Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry wrote in a letter to the UN Security Council earlier this month that starting to fill the dam’s 74 billion cubic meter reservoir would “jeopardize the water security, food security, and indeed, the very existence of more than 100 million Egyptians, who are entirely dependent on the Nile River for their livelihood.”

Ethiopia has most recently said it intends to fill the dam's reservoir by July. Ethiopia has appealed to other members of the Nile Basin Initiative, including Rwanda, Kenya and Uganda, for support.

Cairo insists upon an agreement before the dam is filled and has sought US mediation in negotiations.

Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan announced in February that they had agreed on a path forward in negotiations backed by the United States and the World Bank. Ethiopia then skipped the last round of talks in Washington and denied any deal had been reached.

The United States backed a draft agreement for the three parties to sign, but Ethiopia rejected the proposal, saying it would reduce the dam’s power generation capacity.

Egypt’s foreign minister raised the possibility of armed conflict in his letter to the UN Security Council on May 1.

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