With tensions still running high over Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance Dam on the Nile, the leaders of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan were to meet today in another bid to break a deadlock in negotiations.
The surprise meeting comes less than two weeks after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn met in Cairo over 17-18 January, after two months of mounting alarm in Egypt.
Egypt relies on the Nile for most of its water and fears the $4bn, 6-GW hydroelectric scheme will restrict its flow, while Ethiopia insists it will have no negative impact.
Talks on the scope of impact studies between the three countries broke down in November last year.
"The aim is to agree on the resumption of the consultations," a diplomat attending an African Union summit in Addis Ababa, where the three leaders are already gathered, told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
An Egyptian government source also confirmed to Reuters that President al-Sisi would extended his stay in the Ethiopian capital to meet his counterparts.
Talks during 17-18 January produced no breakthrough, and afterward Ethiopia’s prime minister said he had rejected Egypt’s call for the World Bank to act as arbitrator in the dispute.
Egypt is particularly concerned over the speed at which the dam’s reservoir would be filled, noted Reuters.
Being built by Italian contractor Salini Impregilo, the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is said now to be more than 60% complete.
Image: Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, left, and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn (GCR/Wikimedia Commons)