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Egypt-Sudan-Ethiopia talks on Nile dam end without progress

Sudan and Egypt fail to break a deadlock over Ethiopia's Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam project
Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly (L) welcomes his Sudanese counterpart Abdalla Hamdok upon his arrival in the Egyptian capital Cairo, on 11 March 2021 (AFP)

Talks aimed at breaking a deadlock over Ethiopia's construction of a dam on the Nile ended without success on Tuesday, according to Egypt's foreign ministry.

The three-way discussions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo's capital Kinshasa between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) had been aimed at resolving differences over a project Addis Ababa says is key to its economic development and power generation.

Egypt fears the dam will imperil its supplies of Nile water, while Sudan is concerned about the dam's safety and water flows through its own dams and water stations.

Before the meetings began, Egypt had said they represented the last chance to restart negotiations before Ethiopia begins to fill the dam for the second year in a row after seasonal rains start this summer.

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Sudan's Foreign Minister Mariam al-Sadiq al-Mahdi told reporters on Tuesday that Ethiopia's insistence on such unilateral moves represented a violation of international law.

Ethiopian Minister of Water Seleshi Bekele did not respond to texts and calls seeking comment.

Sudan and Egypt were aligned on a proposal to include the European Union, the United States and the United Nations in the negotiations, as an addition to current African Union mediators.

Egypt said Ethiopia rejected the proposal during the meeting, as well as other suggestions to restart negotiations.

"This position reveals once again Ethiopia's lack of political will to negotiate in good faith," Egypt's statement said.

Sudan, which is also locked in a border dispute with Ethiopia, had been hosting Egypt for air force training exercises that concluded on Saturday.

Last week, Egypt's President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi said there would be "inconceivable instability in the region" if Egypt's water supply were affected by the dam.

"Without a new approach to negotiations, there becomes space for Ethiopia to impose a fait accompli and put all the peoples of the region in grave danger," said Mahdi.