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No Deal in 3-Party Nile Dam Negotiations

Trilateral negotiation Wednesday between the water ministers of Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan over a multi-billion-dollar dam project resulted in no consensus, according to Egypt's official MENA news agency.

The ministers, meeting in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, discussed how the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) could operate without harming any of the relevant countries, but no final agreement was reached, said MENA.

The talks focused on preventing the violation of the legal water sharing rights of Egypt and Sudan, which are accepted as Nile watershed countries, while not damaging the development of Ethiopia and Sudan.

The parties agreed to continue negotiations until a reasonable solution protecting the interests of all three countries is found. After Ethiopia began to construct the dam in 2011 by changing one of the two reaches of the Blue Nile, the regional countries began to discuss the use of river water.

To resolve the issue, negotiations were launched between the three countries. However, due to differences of opinion, the negotiations were repeatedly suspended and relaunched. The project, set to cost roughly $4.8 billion, is expected to produce 6,000 megawatts of electricity. The dam will be the biggest dam in Africa to date.

The dam was scheduled to be completed within five years, but more than seven years down the line it is nowhere near complete. Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed this April complained of delays, blaming the military-based local contractor.

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