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Egyptian president, Ethiopian envoy discuss Nile dam issue

(Xinhua) — Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi met with Ethiopian prime minister’s special envoy Hailemariam Desalegn here on Saturday, where they discussed the issue about the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

The ethiopian envoy reviewed the GERD issue in light of what has been agreed upon so far in the framework of the tripartite negotiations between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan, Egyptian Presidential Spokesman Bassam Rady said in a statement.

For his part, Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi stressed Egypt’s commitment to working on the success of the tripartite talks sponsored by Washington, the statement added.

Upstream Nile Basin country Ethiopia started building its grand hydropower dam in 2011 on the Blue Nile, while Egypt, a downstream country, is concerned that the dam might affect its 55.5-billion-cubic-meter annual share of Nile water.

Egypt’s fellow downstream country Sudan eyes future benefits from the GERD construction despite Egyptian concerns.

After years of fruitless ministerial talks between the three countries, fresh rounds of negotiations have been resumed in Washington under U.S. sponsorship and a final agreement is expected to be concluded in late February.

“The agreement would open vast horizons for cooperation, coordination and joint development between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan and mark a new stage for the development of relations between them,” Sisi was quoted as saying by the statement.

Filling the reservoir, whose total capacity is 74 billion cubic meters, may take several years. The longer the better for Egypt to avoid the negative effects of water shortage, which is a main point of their talks.

The Egyptian president emphasized that the anticipated agreement “would maintain balance of interests between all parties.”

The GERD is expected to produce over 6,000 megawatts of electricity and become Africa’s largest hydropower dam upon completion.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has repeatedly vowed not to harm Egypt’s share of Nile water via the GERD.

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