KHARTOUM, Sudan

Amid regional tension over the project, countries along the Nile must reach a legally binding agreement on the filling and operations of the Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam (GERD), or Hidase Dam, according to Egypt’s president

Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi made the remarks late Saturday during an official visit to South Sudan’s capital Juba to meet with his South Sudanese counterpart Salva Kiir, according to Egyptian media.

During their meeting, the leaders discussed the issue of strengthening cooperation between the two countries in the field of water resources and irrigation.

They also discussed joint efforts to maximize the utilization of Nile River resources.

Underlining that that the Nile is the lifeblood of the peoples in the region, Sisi said the river must be a source of cooperation and development for regional countries.

Ethiopia began construction of the over $5 billion hydroelectric dam project in 2011, triggering a drawn-out diplomatic battle with Egypt, which had enjoyed thousands of years of hegemony on the Nile.

Though Ethiopia contributes 85% of the Nile’s waters, a 1959 agreement between Sudan and Egypt gave 55.5 billion cubic meters (bcm) to Egypt and 18.5 bcm annually to Sudan and nothing to Ethiopia.

*Writing by Zehra Nur Duz

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