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Egypt's President Sisi in Sudan with Ethiopia's dam on agenda

Egyptian leader's visit continues diplomatic push for support and renewed talks on controversial mega-project
Egypt's Abdel Fattah el-Sisi meets with the head of Sudan's Sovereign Council, Abdel Fattah Burhan, in Egypt in October (FILE/AFP)

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has arrived in Sudan on Saturday for his first visit since the end of president Omar al-Bashir's 30-year rule, hoping to secure a deal on Ethiopia's mega-dam on the River Nile. 

Both Egypt and Sudan lie downstream of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam project and are worried about suffering negative effects of the dam, but years of talks have failed to reach a resolution. 

Ethiopia began filling the dam last summer after Egypt and Sudan failed to secure a legally binding agreement over the hydropower dam's operation.

It claims it has the right to draw from the Nile after the waters have been long exploited by Egypt, which fears suffering further water shortages as a result, while Sudan is worried about increased flooding. 

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Sisi has recently been on a diplomatic push, seeking support over the dam from South Sudan and South Africa, while his foreign minister, Sameh Shoukry, told UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday that negotiations needed to be relaunched. 

Sudan recently proposed that the United States, European Union, United Nations and African Union should actively mediate in the dispute, rather than simply observing talks, a suggestion that Egypt supports.

Ethiopia this week indicated its opposition to adding mediators to an existing, African Union-led process.

Since Bashir was toppled following mass protests in 2019, a military-civilian council has held power in Sudan under a political transition expected to last until the end of 2023.