CAIRO: Egypt has pulled out of talks on the controversial $4 billion dam on the Blue Nile amid a growing dispute with Ethiopia over access to water.
Both Egypt and Sudan fear the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which is being built about 15 km from the Ethiopian border with Sudan, could cause water shortages upstream. Sudan is also concerned about the structure’s safety.
The Blue Nile is a tributary of the Nile River, from which Egypt’s 100 million people obtain 90 percent of their freshwater.
Discussions among the three countries have made little progress. The Water Ministry in Cairo said on Wednesday that Ethiopia had put forward a draft proposal that lacked regulations on the operation of the dam, or any legal obligations. The draft also lacked a legal mechanism for settling disputes, the Egyptian ministry said.
“Egypt and Sudan demanded meetings be suspended for internal consultations on the Ethiopian proposal, which contravenes what was agreed upon during the African Union summit,” it said.
Sudan’s Irrigation Ministry said the latest Ethiopian position raised new fears over the track the negotiations had been on.
“We stress the seriousness of the risks that the dam represents for Sudan and its people, including environmental and social risks, and for the safety of millions of residents along the banks of the Blue Nile,” the ministry said.
“This reinforces the need to reach a comprehensive agreement covering both filling and operation.”