World Bulletin / News Desk
Egypt's irrigation Minister Hossam al-Moghazi on Sunday paid a visit to the construction site of Ethiopia's Great Renaissance Dam, a project that has in recent years brought tension to relations between the two Nile Basin countries.
Accompanying the Egyptian minister during his five-hour visit, almost the first by an Egyptian official to the site, was Egypt's ambassador to Addis Ababa Mohamed Idriss, a Sudanese four-member delegation, Ethiopia's Water, Energy and Irrigation Minister Alemayehu Tegenu and Ethiopia's ambassador to Cairo Mohamoud Dirir.
Following the visit, the three ministers returned to the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa where they are expected to be part of talks on Ethiopia's multibillion hydroelectric dam.
Dirir described the visit as "important." He said it is a positive step on the way of improving relations between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan.
The Ethiopian diplomat added that the ministers of both Egypt and Sudan had seen the construction site of the dam in reality.
"The Renaissance Dam is a civilian project that aims to serve the peoples of the region, particularly the peoples of Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan," Dirir told Anadolu Agency, noting that the project would seek to generate electrical power.
The water ministers of Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan are due to meet in Addis Ababa on Monday to discuss the results of the meetings of national experts on future work. The three ministers are also due to discuss the selection of an international consultation firm on the Ethiopian dam.
The $6.4-billion hydroelectric dam is being built on the upper reaches of the Nile River – Egypt's primary water source.
The project – which Ethiopia says is necessary for its national development plans – has raised alarm bells in Egypt, which relies on the river for almost all of its water needs.
Ethiopia insists the project won't impact Egypt's traditional share of Nile water, which has long been determined by a colonial-era water-sharing treaty that Addis Ababa has never recognized.
Last month, a trilateral committee – comprised of the Egyptian, Ethiopian and Sudanese water ministers – convened in Khartoum where they agreed to form a follow-up committee comprised of water experts from the three countries to discuss the impact of the Ethiopian dam project.