Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan remained deadlocked after two days of talks in their disputes over a giant hydropower dam on the Nile, though Cairo said it hoped the issues would be resolved by Jan. 15 in line with a deadline agreed with Washington.
“We did not reach an agreement today but we achieved clarity at least on all issues including the filling. We hope to reach a deal next week in Washington,” Egyptian Water Minister Mohamed Abdel Aty told Reuters late on Thursday after two days of meetings in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.
The countries are due to convene on Jan. 13 in Washington with the aim of resolving their disagreements by Jan. 15 over the filling and operation of the $4 billion hydroelectric dam that Ethiopia is building on the Nile.
They agreed to the timeline after a meeting in Washington with US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and World Bank President David Malpass in November.
However, after the meetings in the Ethiopian capital ended with no progress, Ethiopian Water Minister Sileshi Bekele accused Egypt of coming to the talks with no intention of reaching a deal.
“We didn’t agree on the filling of the dam as Egypt presented a new proposal requesting the filling to be carried out in 12-21 years. This is not acceptable. We will start the filling of the dam by July,” Sileshi told a news conference.
Egypt’s Water Ministry, in a statement released late on Thursday, said that despite its delegation’s attempts to “narrow differences” among the three countries, the Ethiopian government failed to prove that it would take all necessary precautions to ensure that its dam will not affect Egypt’s water supply, especially in times of drought.
The dispute over the filling and operation of the massive dam has sparked a diplomatic crisis between Egypt and Ethiopia, who both see existential threats in each other’s positions on the project.
Cairo fears the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) will restrict supplies of already scarce Nile waters on which its population of more than 100 million people is almost entirely dependent.
Addis Ababa denies the dam will undermine Egypt’s access to water and says the project is crucial to its economic development, as it aims to become Africa’s biggest power exporter with a projected capacity of more than 6000 megawatts.