ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Ethiopia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Thursday it is demanding an official explanation from Egypt after comments from politicians suggesting Egypt attack or sabotage a Nile River dam Ethiopia is building.
Dina Mufti, a spokesman for the ministry, said that Egypt’s ambassador to Ethiopia has been summoned to explain the “hostile remarks.” The spokesman said Ethiopia is awaiting a response.
Ethiopia a week ago started diverting the flow of the Nile River to make way for its $4.2 billion hydroelectric plant, dubbed the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. Egypt fears the dam will mean a diminished share of the Nile River.
Egyptian political leaders who met their president on Monday proposed aiding rebels against the Addis Ababa government. Sabotaging the dam itself was also mentioned by politicians who appeared not to know their meeting was being televised.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamel Amr, in a statement Thursday, said Egypt will seek to coordinate with Sudan and Ethiopia over the issue of the dam going forward. Amr also said Egypt’s water security cannot be ignored or hurt.
“There is a large window for dialogue and discussion between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan to arrive at the ideal form for the dam that ensures safeguarding Egypt’s water interests, realizing the development objectives of all three nations and avoiding any negative effects that may hurt downstream nations,” he said.
On Wednesday, a close aide of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi announced that work was under way to create a national commission to deal with the issue. She said demanding that Ethiopia halts work at the dam will be given priority, but added that the decision to make a formal request will rest with the proposed commission.
Another Morsi aide, Ayman Ali, said there was no proof that Monday’s televised remarks have hurt Egypt’s position.
“It may have actually served the Egyptian position because the views stated, while some were radical, have shown the extent of alarm felt by the Egyptians,” Ali said.
Dina said Ethiopia’s construction plans have been “vindicated” by a 10-man panel of experts who found after a year of study that the renaissance dam will not significantly affect Egypt or Sudan. The panel was composed of four international experts and two from Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia.
Dina said Ethiopia is ready to negotiate with both Egypt and Sudan for “mutual benefits.”