Egypt, Ethiopia agree to settle differences over Nile mega-dam

Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi

Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi

At Sunday's meeting in Cairo, Ahmed reassured el-Sissi that his country had "no desire to harm the Egyptian people".

"I swear to God that Ethiopia will not do any harm to Egypt's water", Sisi dictates the Ethiopian PM who speaks native Aramaic language, in Arabic, before he starts laughing and applauding Ali. "We believe that we should benefit from this river, the Nile, but when we benefit we should not do harm to the Egyptian people", he said.

Upstream Nile Basin country Ethiopia and downstream Sudan eye massive benefits from the GERD construction, while downstream Egypt is concerned it might affect its 55.5-billion-cubic-meter annual share of the river water.

Egypt's president said both countries are working to achieve a final agreement over the Renaissance Dam that "secures" Egypt's fair share of Nile waters and helps Ethiopia's development.

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Ali's visit came three weeks after a breakthrough in the talks was seen during a nine-member trilateral ministerial meeting, held in Addis Ababa in mid-May, which comprised the ministers of foreign affairs, those of water resources and the heads of intelligence services of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan.

Ethiopia and Egypt have been trading war of words sometime back after Egyptian president ranted "Nile is a matter of life and death for Egypt" - connoting that it is a red line. They also confirmed that leaders from the three nations will meet every six months for consultations. Ethiopia says the dam is essential for its economic development. Ethiopian authorities responded to what was then understood as a form of "threat of war" in like fashion asserting that The Grand Renaissance Dam, estimated to cost well over US$ 5 billion, is a matter of life and death.

"Cairo's weak hand and inability to gain sufficient leverage over Addis Ababa will force it to coordinate dam operations if it wishes to have input on future Nile River projects", it said. The Nile River flows through Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt, but the largest share of the river runs through Egyptian territory.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (R) shakes hands with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed at the Ittihadiya presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, June 10, 2018.in this handout picture courtesy of the Egyptian Presidency.

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