Egypt's president hails 'breakthrough' in Nile dam talks

Cairo (AFP) –


Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said on Wednesday that a "breakthrough" had been reached in talks with Sudan and Ethiopia over a controversial dam the latter is building on the Nile.

The progress, which he did not specify, took place over the last two days as the three countries' foreign and irrigation ministers as well as heads of intelligence met in Addis Ababa on Tuesday.

"The delegation that arrived six am this morning spent all of last night in meetings and discussions over this matter, and I can say that progress was made in the negotiations with our brothers in Sudan and in Ethiopia," Sisi said on a live youth conference on state TV.

Egypt, which relies almost totally on the Nile for irrigation and drinking water, fears Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam may reduce its water supplies from the Nile.

Talks on the issue involving Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan have been deadlocked for months.

"Until now things have been...," Sisi said, failing to finish the sentence before adding: "This was a couple of days ago. But thank God I can say that there has been a breakthrough."

Sisi cited an announcement during a meeting between Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in Sudan "that Egypt's share will not be affected".

"We just want to transform these statements to procedures... so that we are talking about specific commitments we must all implement and operate with," Sisi said on Wednesday.

Ethiopia's newly appointed prime minister, Ahmed, had said on May 3 in Khartoum, after a meeting with Bashir, that Ethiopia had no intention of harming Sudan or Egypt with its dam.

Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam project on the Blue Nile, launched in 2012, is designed to feed a hydroelectric project to produce 6,000 megawatts of power, equal to six nuclear-powered plants.

The Blue and the White Nile tributaries converge in Sudan's capital Khartoum and from there run north through Egypt to the Mediterranean.