Egypt and Sudan have backed the Democratic Republic of Congo to lead negotiations on their row with Ethiopia over the mega dam on the Nile River.
A statement by foreign ministers Sameh Shoukry of Egypt and Sudan’s Mariam Al-Sadiq affirmed their support for an “enhanced structure” of negotiation sponsored by the African Union that include the US, the European Union and the UN.
The ministers also noted that a unilateral filling of the dam for the second phase would be a direct threat to their countries’ water security.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah-Al Sisi, who met the Sudanese minister, said the dam was a vital issue for both countries.
The plan for enhanced talks comes after DR Congo President Felix Tshisekedi took over as AU chairman last month.
Years of negotiations over the dam have been fruitless, including recent ones hosted by the US and the AU.
Ethiopia sees the $4.8bn (£3.2bn) Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (Gerd) as crucial to producing electricity to power its economic growth.
But it has led to bitter disputes with Egypt and Sudan, both of which are downstream and fear the large dam will greatly reduce their access to water.