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AU leaders begin new round of Nile dam talks


Added 21st July 2020 07:00 PM

AU leaders begin new round of Nile dam talks

African leaders on Tuesday held a virtual meeting on a decade-long dispute between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan over a mega-dam on the Nile River, the South African presidency said.

The summit is mediated by the African Union (AU), which South African President Cyril Ramaphosa currently chairs.

The Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam (GERD) has been a source of tension in the Nile River basin ever since Ethiopia launched the project in 2011.

Sudan and Egypt view the dam as a threat to vital water supplies, while Ethiopia considers it essential for its electrification and development.

Multiple rounds of tripartite talks have ended in deadlock.

Ramaphosa's spokeswoman Khusela Diko told AFP the meeting got underway shortly after the expected starting time of 1400 GMT.

Leaders from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, South Africa and Sudan have been invited to the discussion, which is a follow-up to a similar meeting last month. 

AU Commission Chairman Moussa Faki is also expected to attend, along with observers from the European Union, United States and World Bank.

Tensions escalated last month after Egypt accused Ethiopia of "intransigence" and called on the United Nations Security Council to intervene.

Cairo, Khartoum and the Arab League have since asked Addis Ababa to delay filling the dam reservoir until a comprehensive deal is reached.

Ethiopia, however, said it was on schedule to begin the operation in July as planned -- though an exact date has not yet been set.

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