CAIRO, (Reuters) – Egypt’s foreign minister, vowing not to give up “a single drop of water from the Nile”, said yesterday he would go to Addis Ababa to discuss a giant dam that Ethiopia has begun building in defiance of Cairo’s objections. Speaking to Egypt’s state news agency MENA two days after the Ethiopian government flatly rejected a request from Cairo to halt the project, Mohamed Kamel Amr said Egyptians view any obstacle to the river’s flow as a threat to national survival.
“No Nile – no Egypt,” he said, highlighting the pressure on the Egyptian government, whose popularity is wilting in the face of economic troubles, to prevent the hydro power plant cutting already stretched water supplies for its 84 million people.
Last week, Ethiopia summoned the Egyptian ambassador after politicians in Cairo were shown on television suggesting military action or supporting Ethiopian rebels – a mark of the threat felt in Cairo from the plan to dam the Blue Nile, the tributary that supplies the bulk of water downstream in Egypt. “Egypt won’t give up on a single drop of water from the Nile or any part of what arrives into Egypt from this water in terms of quantity and quality,” Amr told MENA, noting that Egypt has little rain and is effectively desert without its great river.