Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said on Sunday he would meet Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in Russia to discuss a dispute over a hydropower dam that the Horn of Africa country is building on the River Nile.
A long-running diplomatic standoff over building and operating the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam has heightened tensions between the two countries. Egypt worries that the dam will threaten its already scarce water supplies.
“I agreed with the Ethiopian prime minister to meet in Moscow and to discuss the issue to move forward, and God willing, things will go in a way that helps to solve this issue in one way or another,” Sisi said at a military forum on Sunday.
He did not say when they would meet, but Russia will host the first Russian-African summit in the Black sea resort of Sochi on Oct. 23 and 24.
Sudan, which is also involved in the talks, hopes to buy electricity produced by the dam.
Many Egyptians on social media criticised Sisi for signing a 2015 “declaration of principles” with Ethiopia and Sudan, which was meant to serve as a basis for negotiations. Critics say the declaration has strengthened Addis Ababa’s hand in talks, and no breakthrough has been made since it was signed in Khartoum.
Sisi blamed the 2011 uprising which toppled longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak for weakening Cairo’s position in the dam negotiations.