Egypt’s government on Tuesday said it is willing to withdraw from the latest round of tripartite negotiations with Ethiopia and Sudan over its multi-billion-dollar Nile dam for internal consultations, reported Reuters.
The announcement comes as ministers from Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan resumed negotiation this week aimed at resolving a simmering dispute over Ethiopia’s $4.6 billion dollar Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).
Irrigation ministers of Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia took part in the talks aimed at pushing for a deal on the filling and operation of the dam. The meeting was held online amid the coronavirus pandemic. It was also attended by officials from the African Union and South Africa, the current chairman of the regional bloc.
The GERD, which is being built about 15 km (9 miles) from the Ethiopian border with Sudan on the Blue Nile, has become an issue of political deadlock between the three countries.
Egypt fears the dam could restrict its share of Nile water, while Sudan is concerned about the dam’s safety.
The Egypt’s Irrigation Ministry said Ethiopia Addis presented a proposal on Tuesday that excluded “operating guidelines” as well as “a legal mechanism to settle disputes.”
Sudan also threatened to withdraw from the talks as Ethiopia is insisting on linking them to renegotiating a deal on sharing the waters of the Blue Nile.
The Sudanese irrigation ministry said the latest Ethiopian position presented in talks on Tuesday raised new fears over the track the negotiations talks had been on.
“[We] stress the seriousness of the risks that the dam represents for Sudan and its people, including environmental and social risks, and for the safety of millions of residents along the banks of the Blue Nile… which reinforces the need to reach a comprehensive agreement covering both filling and operation,” the Sudanese irrigation ministry said.