(Bloomberg) -- Egypt and Ethiopia made little headway in their latest talks over a controversial Nile dam, dimming hopes of an imminent agreement on filling and operation as the Horn of Africa nation presses on with the $5 billion hydropower project.
The discussions in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, over the weekend were the first official gathering since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced the completion of the fourth filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam earlier in September.
Egypt, which is concerned the dam on the Nile’s main tributary will affect flows that account for 95% of its fresh water, has strongly criticized the continued filling without a binding deal as counter-productive to negotiations.
Why Ethiopia’s $5 Billion Dam Has Riled Its Neighbors: QuickTake
Egypt’s Water Resources Ministry said in a statement there’d been no “substantive progress” and Ethiopia had rowed back on a number of unspecified “understandings” that’d been reached. Ethiopia remains opposed to any compromises or internationally backed technical agreements that accommodate its interests, the ministry said.
Ethiopia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that progress was made “on identifying issues of possible convergence.” But it added it was “regrettable that Egypt‘s continued insistence on maintaining an exclusionary colonial-era-based treaty, monopolistic utilization, and self-claimed ‘water quota‘ have prevented substantive progress in the negotiation.”
Talks would continue in Cairo in October, it said on its Facebook page.
The two countries and the other downstream neighbor Sudan have been embroiled in talks over the dam for years. The dispute has at various times drawn in mediators ranging from the US to the World Bank and African Union.
Egypt’s Water Off Limits, Sisi Says, in Message to Ethiopia
Addressing the United Nations General Assembly on Saturday, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said Ethiopia’s continued filling of the dam was an attempt to impose a reality on the ground. Egypt remains committed to talks, he said.
--With assistance from Fasika Tadesse.
(Updates with comment from Ethiopian foreign ministry starting in fifth paragraph.)
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