October 24, 2019 / 11:49 AM / a month ago

Egypt, Ethiopia agree to resume technical discussions on Grand Renaissance Dam

FILE PHOTO: Water flows through Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam as it undergoes construction work on the river Nile in Guba Woreda, Benishangul Gumuz Region, Ethiopia September 26, 2019. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri/File Photo

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt and Ethiopia’s leaders agreed on Thursday to the immediate resumption of the work by a technical committee trying to agree on the operating terms of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), an Egyptian presidency spokesman said.

The work of the committee had failed to produce agreement over years of meetings, causing a diplomatic dispute between the two nations. The hydropower dam is currently under construction on Ethiopia’s Blue Nile, and Ethiopia is expected to start filling the reservoir behind it next year.

Egypt fears the dam could restrict already scarce supplies of water from the Nile, on which it is almost entirely dependent. Ethiopia says the dam is crucial to its economic development.

In recent weeks, Egypt said three-way talks with Ethiopia and Sudan had been exhausted, issuing calls for an external mediator.

Ethiopia denied that talks between the three countries were stalled, accusing Egypt of trying to sidestep the process.

There was no mention of a mediator in the statement issued by a spokesman for Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi after he met Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on the sidelines of a African-Russian summit in Sochi.

It said work of the technical committee would resume “in a more open and positive manner, in order to reach a final vision on the rules for filling and operating the dam”.

Pictures showed the two leaders smiling as they shook hands.

Reporting by Mohamed Wali; Writing by Aidan Lewis; Editing by Angus MacSwan

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