Ethiopia, Egypt, Sudan agree to study filling of Nile dam

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan announced Wednesday they have made progress in talks on what will be Africa's largest hydroelectric dam.

The foreign ministers of Egypt and Ethiopia and Sudan's water resources minister said they will set up a scientific study group to consult on the filling of Ethiopia's $5 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Nile River. They also confirmed that leaders from the three nations will meet every six months for consultations.

The latest talks came after a round of negotiations last week in Cairo failed. More high-level talks are set for July 3 in Cairo.

Egypt fears too much of the Nile's waters could be retained each year, affecting its agriculture. Ethiopia maintains that the dam's construction will not reduce Egypt's share of the water and that it will help Ethiopia's development, pointing out that 60 million of its citizens don't have access to electricity.

"There was a progress in the negotiations with our brothers in Sudan and Ethiopia," Egyptian President Abdel Fatah el-Sissi said in televised comments late Wednesday. "The matter will consume efforts and time to reach an understanding formula. There was a breakthrough."

"One step forward to Ethiopia," the country's foreign affairs spokesman, Meles Alem, told The Associated Press.

The mega-dam is now more than 63 percent complete. Once complete it will generate about 6,400 megawatts, more than doubling Ethiopia's current production of 4,000 megawatts.

According to a document obtained by the AP, the scientific group will discuss and develop "various scenarios related to the filling and operation rules in accordance with the principle of equitable and reasonable utilization of shared water resources while taking all appropriate measures to prevent the causing of significant harm."

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