Egypt irrigation minister says 'all options open' in Ethiopia dam row

Abdel-Muttalib stressed that Egypt wouldn't close the door to negotiations with Addis Ababa.

Abdel-Muttalib stressed that Egypt wouldn't close the door to negotiations with Addis Ababa.

CAIRO - Water Resources and Irrigation Minister Mohamed Abdel-Muttalib on Thursday said that "all options are open" for Egypt regarding Ethiopia's multibillion-dollar hydroelectric dam project, which Egypt fears could threaten its traditional share of Nile water.

"Ethiopian decision-makers must bring a solution to the table that won't compromise Egypt's share of water," Abdel-Muttalib told Anadolu Agency.

Abdel-Muttalib stressed that Egypt wouldn't close the door to negotiations with Addis Ababa, but maintained that the "internationalization" of the crisis remained an option for the Egyptian government in the event of an impasse.

"All options and scenarios are open," Abdel-Muttalib asserted. "Each party has the right to defend its interests without compromising the other's rights."

Local Egyptian media recently quoted Irrigation Ministry spokesman Khalid Wasif as saying that Egypt would take its complaints against the Ethiopian dam project to the "international" level.

In response, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said his country would "win politically" if Egypt insisted on international arbitration.

Relations between Ethiopia and Egypt soured last year over Ethiopia's plans to build its Grand Renaissance Dam on the upper reaches of the Nile River – Egypt's main source of water.

The controversial project raised alarm bells in Egypt, the Arab world's most populous country, which fears a reduction of its traditional share of Nile water.

Water distribution among the states of the Nile Basin has long been based on a colonial-era agreement granting Egypt and Sudan the lion's share of the river's water.

Ethiopia, for its part, is determined to build a series of dams in order to generate electricity, both for local consumption and export.

Addis Ababa insists the new dam will benefit downstream states Sudan and Egypt, which will be invited to purchase electricity thus generated.

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