Egypt, Ethiopia agree to further talks
18 June 2013, 16:10
Addis Ababa - Ethiopia and Egypt have agreed to hold further
talks on the impact of an Ethiopian dam to quell tensions between the two
countries, the foreign ministers of both nations said on Tuesday.
"We agreed that we will start immediately on
consultations at both the technical level... and the political level,"
Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr told reporters, after meetings in
Addis Ababa with his Ethiopian counterpart Tedros Adhanom.
The countries have been embroiled in a heated row after
Ethiopia began diverting the Blue Nile River last month for the construction of
the 6000 MW Grand Renaissance Dam.
Concerned over how the dam could impact downstream water
levels, Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi warned that "all options are
open" over its construction.
But Amr and Tedros said that relations between the countries
remain "brotherly" and that they will continue talks on the impact of
Amr said that previous statements had been made "in the
heat of the moment."
"Both ministers stressed the need to continue the
dialogue and communication with each other," they said in a joint
"We have two options, either to swim or sink together.
I think Ethiopia chooses, and so does Egypt, to swim together," Tedros
An international panel has issued a report outlining the
dam's impact on water levels.
The report has not been made public, but Ethiopia has said
the report confirms that the impact on water levels are minimal.
"[We agreed to] ask for further studies to ascertain
the effects of the dam, not only the safety of the dam, the environmental
effects, but also the effects of the dam on the downstream countries," Amr
said, adding that consultations involve Sudan as well as Ethiopia and Egypt.
Egypt relies on the Nile River for 86% of its water, and has
said the construction of the dam is a security concern.
Ethiopia's parliament ratified a controversial treaty last
week ensuring its access to Nile water resources, replacing a colonial-era
agreement that granted Egypt and Sudan the majority of water rights.
The new deal allows upstream countries to implement irrigation
and hydropower projects without first seeking Egypt's approval.
Ethiopia is building the $4.2bn Grand Renaissance Dam in
order to generate electricity for export to neighbouring countries, including
Kenya and Djibouti.
Set to be complete in 2017, it is slated to become Africa's
biggest hydroelectric dam and is being funded entirely from internal resources.
The Blue Nile joins the White Nile in the Sudanese capital
Khartoum to form the Nile, which then flows through Egypt.