World Bulletin / News Desk
Ethiopia has agreed to an Egyptian call for the resumption of tripartite talks – also including Sudan – to discuss the construction of a multibillion-dollar hydroelectric dam being built by Addis Ababa on the upper reaches of the Nile, an Ethiopian diplomatic source said on Saturday.
"Ethiopia and Sudan have agreed in principle to hold a tripartite meeting this month," the source, requesting anonymity, told Anadolu Agency.
He added that the meeting will likely be held in Sudanese capital Khartoum.
The Egyptian government, however, says it has yet to receive an official response from Addis Ababa.
"But we expect the response to be positive," Egyptian Irrigation Minister Hossam Moghazi told AA by phone.
Earlier this month, Cairo said it has offered to host the tripartite talks in mid-July.
The invitation came after Egypt and Ethiopia agreed during late June's African summit in Malabo to resume talks on the controversial hydroelectric mega-dam Addis Ababa is building on the Nile, which Cairo fears will reduce its traditional share of river water.
"Cairo harbors no sensitivity towards the location of the meeting," Moghazi said.
In a joint statement during the summit, the two countries also agreed to resume meetings of a tripartite committee composed of officials from Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan.
The statement was issued a day after Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi met with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn on the sidelines of the 23rd African summit.
Set up in 2011, a tripartite technical committee was tasked with studying the impact of the multibillion-dollar Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the two downstream countries.
The panel's work, however, was suspended in January amid mounting tension between Cairo and Addis Ababa.
"Egypt is looking forward to reaching a friendly solution to the crisis," Moghazi said. "We have common ground with Ethiopia on which we could reach a settlement."
Ethiopia says the dam is necessary for its national development, insisting the project won't impact Egypt's traditional share of Nile water, which has long been set by a colonial-era water-sharing treaty that Addis Ababa has never recognized.
Tension has marred relations between Ethiopia and Egypt in recent years over the former's construction of the Nile dam, given the fact that the river represents Egypt's only source of water.
Egypt fears construction of the dam could potentially reduce its water supply and hurt local agriculture.
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