CAIRO (AP) — Egypt’s Foreign Ministry said Tuesday the latest round of talks over Ethiopia’s massive dam project failed to make progress after Addis Abba rejected a Sudanese proposal to include international mediators.
Spokesman Ahmed Hafez said Ethiopia rejected the United States, European Union, the United Nations and the African Union playing a role in overseeing the negotiations.
Ethiopian officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Hafez said Ethiopia also rejected an Egyptian proposal to resume the talks with the Africa Union playing a mediating role, as it has played in previous talks.
The negotiations, held in Kinshasa, Congo, concluded Tuesday without a deal being reached, according a communique released after they finished.
Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi, the current African Union chair, said “the Nile River must remain a fertile source of life and shared prosperity.”
The yearslong dispute over a giant dam that Ethiopia is building on the Nile River’s main tributary centers on the speed at which a planned reservoir is filled behind the dam.
Also in question is the method of its annual replenishment, and how much water Ethiopia will release downstream if a multi-year drought occurs. Another point of difference is how the three countries would settle any future disputes.
Egypt and Sudan want a legally binding agreement on the dam’s filling and operation, while Ethiopia insists on guidelines.
The talks in Kinshasa came a few days after Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi said his country’s share of Nile River waters were “untouchable” — a stark warning apparently to Ethiopia, which is preparing for another stage of the dam’s filling later this year.
Egypt is a mostly desert country that depends on the Nile for almost all of its water needs. It fears that a quick fill would drastically reduce the Nile’s flow, with potentially severe effects on its agriculture and other sectors.
Ethiopia says the $5 billion dam is essential, arguing that the vast majority of its population lacks electricity. The dam will generate over 6,400 megawatts of electricity, a massive boost to the country’s current production of 4,000 megawatts.
Associated Press writer Jean Yves Kamale in Kinshasa, Congo contributed.