Leaders of Ethiopia, Egypt to Meet on Nile Dam Standoff in Moscow

ADDIS ABEBA – Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said he would meet Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in Russia to discuss a dispute over a hydropower dam that the Horn of Africa country is building on the River Nile.

A long-running diplomatic standoff overbuilding and operating the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam has heightened tensions between the two countries. Egypt worries that the dam will threaten its already scarce water supplies.

“I agreed with the Ethiopian prime minister to meet in Moscow and to discuss the issue to move forward, and God willing, things will go in a way that helps to solve this issue in one way or another,” Sisi was quoted as saying by Reuters at a military forum on Sunday.

He did not say when they would meet, but Russia will host the first Russian-African summit in the Black sea resort of Sochi on Oct. 23 and 24.

Sisi and Abiy spoke over the phone on Friday after Prime Minister Abiy won the Nobel Peace Prize for his peacemaking efforts with Eritrea. Sisi had congratulated Abiy on Facebook.

“The call included a stress on the importance of overcoming any obstacles in the negotiations of the Renaissance Dam,” said Egyptian presidency spokesman Bassam Rady.

The 6,450MW dam is being built on the Blue Nile, one of two main tributaries to the main Nile River near the border with Sudan.

Egypt prefers Ethiopia to fill in the Dam’s reservoir within 10 years instead of the Ethiopia’s plan, which is three years.