Egypt PM travels to Sudan for Nile dam talks
Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouli has arrived in Sudan on a visit to “improve cooperation” between the two African neighbors, as tensions are simmering over Ethiopia’s Nile dam.
The official visit by the Egyptian premier on Saturday is his first to Sudan since the formation of a transitional government in Khartoum last year following months of widespread protests against former president Omar al-Bashir that ultimately led to his ouster.
“The aim of this visit is to improve cooperation between the two countries in various fields,” said the office of Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok in a statement.
Madbouli led a delegation that included Egypt's ministers of water and irrigation, electricity, health, and trade and industry.
The $5 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) has been a source of tension in the Nile River basin ever since Ethiopia broke ground on it nine years ago.
The construction of the 147-meter high, 1.8-kilometer long project is expected to be completed by 2023.
According to the Declaration of Principles signed by Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt, Ethiopia reserves a right to go on construction in parallel with negotiations on the dam's filling and operation.
Past Egyptian presidents have warned that any attempt to build dams along the Nile will be met with military action, but the current President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi has says Egypt has no intention to go to war over the issue.
However, Sisi warned that Egypt’s share of the Nile, which provides nearly all of its freshwater, was a red line. Addis Ababa insists the dam, which is desperately need for the country’s electrification and development, would not be cutting down the flow into Egypt.
Sudan has similar concerns over the dam.
Trilateral negotiations between the three involved countries were halted last week after Addis Ababa insisted on linking them to renegotiating an agreement on sharing the waters of the Blue Nile.
Early this week, Khartoum said negotiations had been postponed for a week.
During his stay in Khartoum, the Egyptian prime minister is also expected to meet with General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, head of Sudan's ruling sovereign council, and Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, the council deputy chief and a military general.