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Egypt FM not optimistic about Ethiopia's 'evasive' statements over dam

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Egypt Sameh Shoukry on July 12, 2021 [EU Commission/Pool/Anadolu Agency]
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Egypt Sameh Shoukry on July 12, 2021 [EU Commission/Pool/Anadolu Agency]

Egypt's Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry, yesterday described an Ethiopian negotiator's remarks about reaching an agreement on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) as "evasive", Anadolu reported.

"Such Ethiopian statements are a continuation of fallacies, prevarication, and lack of credibility, which does not bode well for the existence of a political will to reach an agreement," Shoukry said.

Earlier on Saturday, a member of the Ethiopian negotiating team on the Renaissance Dam file, Ibrahim Idris, said his country "will not accept a settlement which is against its national interests in any form.".

"If Ethiopia signs any agreement with Egypt and Sudan, this will only happen when national interests and the future development of water resources are secured," he added.

Ethiopia is building a $5 billion dam near the border with Sudan it says will provide the country with much-needed electricity and economic regeneration. Egypt believes it will restrict its access to Nile waters.

READ: Ethiopia embassy in Egypt to temporarily close

Egypt is almost entirely dependent on Nile water, receiving around 55.5 million cubic metres a year from the river, and believes that filling the dam will affect the water it needs for drinking, agriculture, and electricity.

Cairo wants Ethiopia to guarantee Egypt will receive 40 billion cubic metres or more of water from the Nile. Ethiopian Irrigation Minister Seleshi Bekele said Egypt has abandoned this demand, but Egypt insists it hasn't and issued a statement to this effect.

There is also an unresolved issue over how fast the dam will be filled, with Egypt fearing if it is filled too quickly, it could affect the electricity generated by the Aswan High Dam.

In July, Ethiopia informed downstream countries Egypt and Sudan that it had started the second phase of filling the dam's reservoir in an effort to take advantage of the rainy season. Egypt responded saying: "Addis Ababa is violating international laws and norms, and is treating the River Nile as its own property."

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