Egypt and Ethiopia Agree to Avoid Clash over Huge Nile River Dam

Clay Curtis
June 12, 2018

The latest visit to Egypt by Ethiopian PM was in January by former PM Hailemariam Desalegn, during which he asserted that his country will not put Egyptians life at risk, as the disagreement between Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan continues over the countries shares of Nile waters after Ethiopia completes constructions of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). But at a press conferee in Cairo, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi signaled they had made a breakthrough.

Abiy is accompanied to Egypt by high level delegation and is expected to hold discussion with Egyptian president Sisi on matters of bilateral relations, trade and regional issues, according to Ethiopian government sources.

Al-Sisi said he has been working over the past four years with Ethiopia to reach an agreement on the dam dispute.

The leaders of Ethiopia and Egypt vowed on Sunday to iron out their differences over a dam Addis Ababa is building on the Nile River that Cairo fears threatens its water supplies.

Under a decades-old agreement, Egypt has received what neighboring countries perceive as more than its fair share of the water. Ethiopia says the dam is essential for its economic development.

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Construction workers are seen in a section of Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam, as it undergoes construction, during a media tour along the river Nile in Benishangul Gumuz Region, Guba Woreda, in Ethiopia, March 31, 2015.

"Cairo's weak hand and inability to gain sufficient leverage over Addis Ababa will force it to coordinate dam operations if it wishes to have input on future Nile River projects", it said.

The main sticking point with Egypt concerns how quickly the reservoir behind the dam is filled, and the impact that will have downstream.

Egyptian presidents in the past have threatened military force in defense of their share of the Nile and against any attempts to build dams on it. The Nile River flows through Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt, but the largest share of the river runs through Egyptian territory.

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