Talks in Khartoum over controversial Nile dam collapse

By AFP

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The latest tripartite talks on the controversial Ethiopian dam built along the Nile have collapsed after hours of discussions, Sudanese Foreign minister Ibrahim Ghandur said on Friday.

“The Renaissance dam talks have failed to achieve any breakthrough,” Mr Ghandour told journalists.

The foreign ministers and intelligence chiefs of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan met in Khartoum on Thursday.

After nearly 17 hours of discussions, the parties failed to reach an agreement on issues concerning Addis Ababa’s ongoing construction of the dam on the Nile.

“We discussed many areas of disagreements but in the end we failed to reach decisions regarding our differences” the top Sudanese diplomat said without revealing what the differences were.

Long impasse

The latest round of discussions had been held after leaders of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan met in Addis Ababa last month and agreed to break the months-long impasse over the dam.

Ethiopia began building the $4 billion dam in 2012, but the mega project has triggered tensions primarily with Egypt as Cairo fears that once commissioned the dam will reduce water supplies from the Nile to Egypt.

Egypt relies almost totally on the Nile for irrigation and drinking water, and says it has “historic rights” to the river, guaranteed by treaties from 1929 and 1959.

Cairo argues that the treaties grant it 87 per cent of the Nile’s flow, as well as the power to veto upstream projects. It fears that any reduction of water supplies to the biggest Arab country will affect its agriculture.

Cairo is primarily concerned at the speed at which the dam’s reservoir would be filled.

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

Initially Sudan too had concerns over the project, but in recent months has supported it, with experts saying that the dam will help regulate floods along Sudan’s share of the Nile.

Renaissance dam talks resumed after two years of suspension due to disagreements between Egypt and Ethiopia.

Hydro-electric power project

The Grand Renaissance Dam aims to produce 6,000 megawatts of hydro-electric power — the equivalent of six nuclear-powered plants.

The dam was initially expected to be commissioned in 2017, but Ethiopian media reports say only about 60 per cent has so far been built.

Mr Ghandour also said that no new date had been fixed for the next round of talks