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Egypt Summons Ethiopian Diplomat Over Dam Comments

Egypt Summons Ethiopian Diplomat Over Dam Comments

Friday, 1 January, 2021 - 05:30
A construction worker walks near the stop log section at Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam as it undergoes construction on the Blue Nile in Guba Woreda, Sept. 26, 2019. (Reuters)

Egypt's foreign ministry said it has summoned Ethiopia's top diplomat in Cairo over comments by an Addis Ababa official regarding a controversial dam on the Nile.

The Egyptian ministry "summoned the Ethiopian Charge d'Affaires in Cairo to explain comments by the spokesperson for the Ethiopian Ministry for Foreign Affairs regarding domestic Egyptian affairs," it said late Wednesday.

The statement did not cite specific comments but followed a statement by the Ethiopian official on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), Africa's biggest hydroelectric project, which has raised fears for vital water supplies downstream in Egypt and Sudan, AFP reported.

"They know the GERD won't harm them, it's a diversion from internal problems," Dina Mufti, the Ethiopian ministry's spokesman and a former ambassador to Egypt, said Tuesday.

Mufti contended that without this "distraction", Egypt and Sudan would "have to deal with many local issues waiting to explode, especially up there (in Egypt)."

The three countries have been in talks since 2011 but have failed to reach a deal on filling the dam. The negotiations have been stalled since August.

The Nile, the world's longest river at 6,000 kilometres (3,700 miles), is a lifeline supplying both water and electricity to 10 countries.

Ethiopia views the dam as essential for its growing power needs, and insists that the flow of water downstream will not be affected.

But Egypt, a country of more than 100 million people who depend on the Nile for 97 percent of their water needs, opposes unilateral moves by Ethiopia.

Along with Sudan, it has called for a legally binding political solution to the dispute.

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