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10.01.2021 Sudan

Sudan voices frustration as latest Nile dam talks stall

By AFP
Sudan's Minister of Irrigation and Water Yasser Abbas gestures during talks online with Egypt and Ethoipia over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).  By ASHRAF SHAZLY (AFP)
LISTEN JAN 10, 2021
Sudan's Minister of Irrigation and Water Yasser Abbas gestures during talks online with Egypt and Ethoipia over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). By ASHRAF SHAZLY (AFP)

Sudan warned Sunday it cannot continue the "vicious cycle" of negotiations with Egypt and Ethiopia in the long-running dispute over Addis Ababa's controversial Blue Nile mega dam.

Last week, the three countries had agreed to hold further talks to agree the filling and operation of the vast reservoir behind the 145-meter (475-foot) tall hydropower Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

But the latest meetings between foreign and water ministers "failed to reach an acceptable agreement to resume negotiations", Khartoum's state-run SUNA news agency said Sunday.

Sudan's water and irrigation minister, Yasser Abbas, warned that Khartoum cannot "continue this vicious cycle of indefinite talks."

Tensions have been high in the Nile basin ever since Ethiopia broke ground on the dam in 2011.

Ethiopia, the second most-populous country in Africa, says the hydroelectric power produced by the dam will be vital to meet the power needs of its 110 million people.

Egypt, which depends on the Nile for about 97 percent of its irrigation and drinking water, sees the dam as an existential threat.

Khartoum hopes Ethiopia's dam will regulate annual flooding, but has also warned that millions of lives would be at "great risk" if no agreement was reached.

It says the water discharged from GERD dam "poses a direct threat" to the safety of Sudan's Roseires Dam downstream on the Blue Nile.

Ethiopia, which had announced reaching its first-year target for filling the dam's reservoir, has recently signalled to proceed with the filling regardless of whether a deal was concluded.

The Nile, the world's longest river, is a lifeline supplying both water and electricity to the 10 countries it traverses.

Its main tributaries, the White and Blue Nile, converge in the Sudanese capital Khartoum before flowing north through Egypt to drain into the Mediterranean Sea.

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