Egypt's FM heads to Washington for Nile dam talks

Source: Xinhua| 2020-01-26 20:12:00|Editor: Shi Yinglun
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CAIRO, Jan. 26 (Xinhua) -- Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry on Sunday flew to Washington for talks over the disputed Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on the Nile River.

In a statement, Egyptian foreign ministry said that Shoukry headed to Washington to participate in the U.S.-sponsored ministerial meeting during which Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia will discuss the filling and operation of Ethiopia's new dam.

The meeting will be attended by representatives of the World Bank, the statement added.

The ministerial meeting comes as all parties agreed in mid-January to resume discussions in Washington on Jan. 28-29 with the aim of reaching a comprehensive agreement on the rules of filling and operation of the dam.

Upstream Nile Basin country Ethiopia started building its grand hydropower dam in 2011 on the Blue Nile, while Egypt, a downstream country, is concerned that the dam might affect its 55.5-billion-cubic-meter annual share of Nile water.

Egypt's fellow downstream country Sudan eyes future benefits from the GERD construction despite Egyptian concerns. The GERD is expected to produce over 6,000 megawatts of electricity and become Africa's largest hydropower dam upon completion.

Egypt seeks a minimum annual flow of 40 billion cubic meters of water from the Blue Nile branch to its lands, while Ethiopia wants to allow an annual passage of 35 billion cubic meters only during the period of filling the dam and the times of drought.

Filling the reservoir, whose total capacity is 74 billion cubic meters, may take several years. While Ethiopia wants to fill it in five to six years, Egypt seeks to prolong the period to avoid the negative effects of water shortage, which is a main point of their talks.