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Egypt Wants World Bank to Help With Ethiopia Dam Impasse

Photo provided by Egypt's state news agency MENA shows Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry (3rd-L) meeting with his counterpart Workneh Gebeyehu (3rd-R) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Dec. 26, 2017.

Egypt said Tuesday the World Bank should be brought in to resolve tensions with Ethiopia over a massive dam on the Nile River that Egypt says threatens its water security.

Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry spoke in Addis Ababa after a 10-month impasse over technical negotiations for the dam, which will be Africa's biggest hydro-electric plant. The talks also involve Sudan.

"Egypt has recognized the importance of economic development to Ethiopia . but science should be the determining factor on how we manage this important issue,'' Shoukry said.

He called the World Bank "neutral and decisive'' and said it could facilitate negotiations "devoid of political interpretation and manipulation.''

Ethiopia maintains that the Grand Renaissance Dam's construction will not reduce Egypt's share of the river. It insists the dam is needed for development, pointing out that 60 million citizens don't have access to electricity.

Foreign Minister Workneh Gebeyehu said Ethiopia will consider Egypt's new proposal and that "this dam is not going to cause any significant harm.'' The project is now 63 percent complete.

Tuesday meeting comes as Ethiopia's leader is expected to visit Egypt next month to address lawmakers.

While Ethiopia has said the dam is a "matter of life or death'' for its people, Egypt has said water is a "matter of life or death'' for his country.

Associated Press writer Hamza Hendawi in Cairo contributed.