Ethiopia ready to discuss Egyptian Nile dam proposals

By Abebech Tamene, Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Ethiopian government is ready to discuss Egyptian proposals on Addis Ababa's multibillion-dollar hydroelectric dam project within the framework of a tripartite dialogue that would also include Sudan

The Ethiopian government is ready to discuss Egyptian proposals on Addis Ababa's multibillion-dollar hydroelectric dam project within the framework of a tripartite dialogue that would also include Sudan

ADDIS ABABA – The Ethiopian government is ready to discuss Egyptian proposals on Addis Ababa's multibillion-dollar hydroelectric dam project within the framework of a tripartite dialogue that would also include Sudan, an Ethiopian official has said.

"If Egypt returns to the tripartite dialogue with constructive ideas, Ethiopia is ready to listen and talk," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Dina Mufti told Anadolu Agency on Wednesday.

A tripartite committee – including representatives from Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt – was drawn up in 2011 and tasked with assessing the dam's possible environmental, economic and social effects on downstream countries.

But the committee's work came to a standstill in January over differences between Ethiopia and Egypt, the latter of which fears that the $6.4-billion dam will reduce its traditional share of Nile water.

However, Fekahmed Negash, director of boundary and trans-boundary rivers at Ethiopia's Water Ministry, told AA on Tuesday that diplomats from the U.S. and E.U. were shuttling between Ethiopia and Egypt in hopes of persuading the two countries to restart the tripartite talks.

"We will be happy if Egypt returns to the tripartite dialogue and cooperates with us to implement the recommendations made by the international panel of experts with regard to the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam," Mufti said.

Commenting on media reports that Egyptian presidential frontrunner Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi – who is widely expected to win May 26-27 polls – was planning to visit Addis Ababa following the election, Mufti said: "So far there is no request [to this effect] from the Egyptian side."

"If there is an official request from the Egyptian side," he added, "it will be considered in an appropriate manner."

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