UN urges Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan to 'work together' in Nile dam dispute

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, pictured under construction in December 2019, will be Africa's largest hydropower plant

The UN on Monday urged Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan to "work together" to resolve differences over Addis Ababa's Nile River mega-dam which has been a long-running source of regional tension.

At Egypt's request, the Security Council was scheduled to hold an informal videoconference Monday afternoon to address the dispute.

Recent talks failed to produce a deal on the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which will be the largest hydropower plant in Africa.

"We urge Egypt, we urge Ethiopia and Sudan to work together to intensify efforts to peacefully resolve outstanding differences," UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said during his daily press conference.

Dujarric recalled "the importance of the 2015 Declaration of Principles on the dam" that stressed the need for cooperation based on good faith, international law and mutual benefit.

According to a diplomatic source, the Security Council session was not anticipated to produce a resolution, as Council members were expected to refer only to letters sent by the three nations to the UN explaining their concerns.

Sudan, where the White and Blue Niles converge, on Sunday had warned against escalation and urged further negotiations over the dam after the previous ones failed.

Ethiopia has declared plans to start filling the dam next month, regardless of whether a deal has been reached.

Egypt, which views the hydro-electric barrage as an existential threat, on Friday urged the Security Council to intervene, citing Ethiopia's "non-positive stances."

The Arab League is also due to discuss the issue, at Egypt's request, in a virtual meeting of foreign ministers on Tuesday.

Both Khartoum and Cairo fear the 145-metre-high (480-foot-high) dam will threaten essential water supplies once the reservoir starts being filled.

Egypt gets about 97 percent of its freshwater needs from the Nile.

But Addis Ababa says the dam is indispensable for its development and insists Egypt's water share will not be affected.

The Nile is a lifeline supplying both water and electricity to the 10 countries it traverses.

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, pictured under construction in December 2019, will be Africa's largest hydropower plant