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Doubt-Drenched Disputing Diplomats Deliberate Decade-Old Dam Disagreement

Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia on Saturday launched yet another round of negotiations over the disputed dam built on Ethiopia’s Blue Nile River, hoping to finally resolve their decade-long conflict after repeated failed talks. The three-day summit, mediated by the African Union in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital Kinshasa, will seat the foreign and irrigation ministers of the three nations, as Sudan and Egypt fear unchecked filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) will cause either severe droughts or flooding in their downstream territories. While Cairo and Khartoum have called for a legally binding pact regarding filling and operation procedures backed by the United States, the United Nations and the European Union, Addis Ababa insists on general guidelines only. Tensions in recent months have been running high, with Egypt last week warning that its Nile River waters were “untouchable.” While Ethiopia hopes the mammoth structure will finally provide electricity to its still mostly off-the-grid population, Egypt’s economy and agriculture rely almost exclusively on a flowing Nile, which if jeopardized by the GERD could lead to mass famine.