Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn is the highest-ranking Ethiopian official to travel to Egypt to take part in what has become a regular meeting of the “High Joint Commission” to address the renaissance dam issue.

CAIRO (News24)―Ethiopia’s prime minister arrived in Cairo on Wednesday for a two-day visit to discuss a massive dam that Egypt fears will cut into its share of the Nile, at a time of heightened tensions among the countries that rely on the river.

Hailemariam Desalegn is the highest-ranking Ethiopian official to travel to Egypt to take part in what has become a regular meeting of the “High Joint Commission” to address the issue. He will meet with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi on Thursday.

Egypt’s Foreign Ministry announced the visit in a statement that only made passing mention of the dam among other issues. The two countries’ foreign ministers held talks ahead of the visit, and Egypt said it was committed to an earlier agreement to share the Nile with Ethiopia and Sudan during the filling of a reservoir behind the new dam.

“(It) will be, upon its full implementation, a successful model of cooperation in the Nile basin,” Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said in comments carried live on state television.

Egypt has expressed mounting alarm over the soon-to-be-completed upstream dam. The Nile provides nearly all the freshwater for the country’s 95 million people. Ethiopia, with roughly the same population, has downplayed those fears, insisting the dam is essential to its economic development.

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