World Egypt’s el-Sisi warns ‘all options open’ after dam talks fail
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Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has warned that “all options are open” after the latest round of talks between his country, Sudan and Ethiopia about a giant dam built by the latter on the Blue Nile ended without progress.
Delegations from the three countries met in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the about, the current chair of the African Union (AU), in an attempt to break the deadlock in negotiations. The talks concluded on Tuesday with no resolution to long-running disputes about the operation and filling of the dam’s reservoir.
Nile countries trade blame as dam talks end without breakthrough
Ethiopia on Tuesday accused Egypt and Sudan of obstructing talks on its contested dam on the Nile, which ended with recriminations and little progress. Sudan's foreign minister, Mariam al-Sadiq al-Mahdi, told reporters Tuesday that Ethiopia "threatens the people of the Nile basin, and Sudan directly".The Democratic Republic of Congo's President Felix Tshisekedi, as the current chair of the African Union, hosted the talks in the latest bid to ease decade-long tensions over the waters of the world's longest river.
“I am telling our brothers in Ethiopia, let’s not reach the point where you touch a drop of Egypt’s water, because all options are open,” el-Sisi said on Wednesday.
“We have witnessed the cost of any confrontation,” he added, referring to past regional conflicts.
Sudan’s irrigation minister also issued a warning on Wednesday, saying that his country stood ready to harden its stance in the dispute and lobby afresh at the highest international levels.
“For Sudan, all options are possible, including returning [the matter] to the UN Security Council and hardening policy … [if] Ethiopia embarks on a second filling [of the dam] without agreement,” Yasser Abbas told reporters.
The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam has been a source of tension in the Nile River basin ever since Ethiopia broke ground on it in 2011.
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Downstream neighbours Egypt and Sudan view the multibillion-dollar project as a threat because of their dependence on the Nile River waters, while Ethiopia considers it essential for its electrification and development.
Ethiopian Water Minister Seleshi Bekele told a news conference on Wednesday that Ethiopia would continue filling the dam’s massive reservoir during the upcoming rainy season, which normally begins in June or July.
“As construction progresses, filling takes place,” Seleshi said. “We don’t deviate from that at all.”
However, Seleshi sought to defuse tensions.
“There is no need to enter an unnecessary war. A war can’t start because of water. Water flows if you fight today, it’ll continue to flow tomorrow,” he told reporters.
Egypt and Sudan, in statements after the Kinshasa meeting, accused Ethiopia of intransigence on restarting negotiations in advance of a second filling of the dam this year.
Ethiopia said on Tuesday it could not enter into an agreement that infringed on its rights to utilise the Nile.
Sudan and Egypt had proposed including the European Union, the United States and the United Nations as mediators in addition to the continuing AU facilitation of the talks.
Both countries said Ethiopia rejected the proposal during the meeting, which Seleshi said was part of an attempt to cause delay, according to state news agency FANA.
Ethiopia determined to continue filling its large dam on the Nile .
© Eduardo Sideras view of the Blue Nile passing and the great Renaissance dam (GERD) built by Ethiopia, near Guba, December 26 2019 Ethiopia has declared itself on Wednesday determined to continue to fulfill the mega-barrage it builds on the Nile, despite the persistent litigation with Egypt and Sudan, downstream of the river.