Egypt may withdraw from UAE-Ethopia Nile Dam talks over ‘lack of progress’

Egypt may withdraw from technical talks with the United Arab Emirates regarding the operation of Ethiopia’s controversial Great Renaissance Dam (GERD) on the Nile, sources have revealed.

Currently there are seven talks in Abu Dhabi between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan for the GERD project, which Egypt fears will deprive it of vital water resources.

However, a western diplomatic source told The New Arab’s sister site Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that Egypt has informed UAE officials that it will withdraw from the negotiations – which focus on preventing an escalation between Ethiopia and downstream Nile states Egypt and Sudan – due to a lack of progress.

Negotiations have been going on for a year and Ethiopia is due to fill the GERD for the fourth time from July to September this year.

Previous fillings of the dam by Ethiopia have caused tension with Sudan and Egypt.

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An Egyptian technical official, who chose to remain anonymous, told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that Cairo “had reached the conclusion that the negotiations with Addis Ababa had no value, and were not making any significant progress”.

“Egyptian officials had also reached the conclusion that negotiations in Abu Dhabi were negatively affecting the Egyptian position as far as world powers with an interest in solving this crisis – particularly the United States – were concerned,” the official added.

When Cairo accused Ethiopia of being incompetent in the matter, Washington appeared to support Addis Ababa by saying that the Nile Basin country is showing favour by participating in the talks between Egypt and Abu Dhabi, he said.

These talks appear to be going nowhere, sources have indicated.

The GERD has been a point of contention between Ethiopia and Egypt since its construction began in 2011, with Cairo saying it could deprive it of life-giving water, create severe droughts and destroy the country’s agriculture.

Ethiopia says that the GERD is essential for its economic development and poses no threat to downstream Nile states.

Egyptian media personalities and political commentators have even threatened war over the issue in the past.

Last week, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry warned that “all options are open and all alternatives remain available” to deal with the GERD.

“The capabilities of the Egyptian people are endless, and Egypt takes disciplined stances towards Ethiopian intransigence,” Shoukry added.

Ethiopia’s foreign ministry said that it rejected the statement, adding that “amicable solutions to the Renaissance Dam issue with Egypt and Sudan are possible with goodwill”.

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