Egypt’s Sisi to “meet Ethiopia in Moscow” over Nile dam

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi said yesterday he would meet with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in Moscow to try and resolve a dispute between the two countries over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which Ethiopia is building on a main tributary of the Nile River.

Sisi did not say when the meeting would take place. Official Ethiopian media has not reported the meeting.

The Egyptian president’s statement came two days after the Ethiopian leader won the 2019 Nobel peace prize, and just over a week after the latest round of talks between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan broke down over the issue of how fast Ethiopia would fill the dam’s reservoir, prompting Egypt to call for international mediation. 

Egypt, which relies on the Nile for nearly all its water, is worried that Ethiopia’s plan to fill the reservoir in three years rather that Egypt’s preferred time frame of up to 10 years would dangerously restrict the flow of water.

The Egyptian presidency has called on the US to play an active role in the dispute, but Washington has so far limited its involvement to calling on "all sides to put forth good faith efforts to reach an agreement". 

Sisi used his statement on Sunday, made at a Cultural Symposium of Armed Forces, to blame Ethiopia for starting the dam unilaterally in 2011, when Egypt was rocked by the Arab Spring.

"If the incidents of 2011 hadn’t happened, we would have had a chance to reach an agreement on the dam," Sisi said, report Egyptian media.

Egyptian media also reported Sunday that Egypt’s deputy foreign minister for African affairs, Hamdy Loza, met the ambassadors of Germany, Italy and China last week to express dismay that companies from their countries were working on the mega-dam on the Blue Nile, despite what Loza described as a lack of studies on the economic, social and environmental impacts of the dam on Egypt.

Image: Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in 2017 ( BY 4.0)

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