The Ethiopian Foreign Minister said his country would start filling the Renaissance Dam in the coming months, a day after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi affirmed that the Nile is an existential matter for all Egyptians and that Cairo rejects unilateral steps by Addis Ababa that would harm Egypt's rights to the river's waters.
“The issue of utilizing the Nile water solely rests on Ethiopia’s strong position and does not need the consent of any other party. Using the Nile water is a natural right for Ethiopia,” Foreign Minister Gedu Andargachew said.
However, Andargachew explained that his country prefers negotiating on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).
His comments came before the UN Security Council holds a video conference on Monday to hear a briefing from UN political chief Rosemary DiCarlo on the dam dispute between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia.
The video conference was called by the United States on behalf of Egypt, after talks between Cairo, Khartoum and Addis Ababa over the filling and operation of the dam reached a deadlock.
Ethiopia wants to start filling the reservoir for the 145-meter dam in July, with or without approval from the two other countries.
On Thursday, Sisi discussed the issue of the controversial dam with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, the head of the African Union in 2020.
Egyptian Presidential Spokesperson Bassam Radi in a statement that during a phone call, the two leaders tackled Egypt's request to the Security Council to intervene to reach a fair and balanced agreement that takes into account the interests of all parties.
According to the statement, Ramaphosa expressed his aspiration to intensify coordination between the two countries during the coming period, added Radi, noting that the South African President praised the sincere and constructive political will that Egypt has always shown to reach a solution to the dam crisis.
The Nile -- which flows some 6,000 kilometers as one of the longest rivers in the world -- is an essential source of water and electricity for dozens of countries in East Africa. Egypt fulfills 97 percent of its water needs from the river alone.
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