Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has stated that all options are on the table when it comes to talks between Cairo, Khartoum, and Addis Ababa over a huge dam on the Blue Nile being constructed by Ethiopia.
The statement comes after the latest round of trilateral negotiations ended without progress in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, earlier this week.
"I am telling our brothers in Ethiopia, let's not reach the point where you touch a drop of Egypt's water, because all options are open", al-Sisi pointed out on Wednesday.
"We have witnessed the cost of any confrontation", he added, in an apparent nod to previous regional conflicts.
He was echoed by Sudan's Irrigation Minister Yasser Abbas, who warned that for his country "all options are possible", including submitting the issue to the UN Security Council and "hardening policy… [if] Ethiopia embarks on a second filling [of the dam] without agreement".
Ethiopian Water Minister Seleshi Bekele, in turn, pledged that Addis Ababa would continue filling the dam's reservoir with water, adding that there is no need for the sides "to enter an unnecessary war".
"A war can't start because of water. Water flows if you fight today, it'll continue to flow tomorrow", Bekele said during a press conference on Wednesday.
He spoke as Egypt and Sudan accused Ethiopia of taking an irreconcilable stance on restarting talks ahead of the dam's second filling this year. Cairo and Khartoum also called for including the EU, the US, and the UN as mediators in the dam talks, which are being held under the auspices of the African Union.
The project is envisioned to be the largest hydroelectric dam in Africa and give Ethiopia an energy surplus, making it an exporter to its energy-scarce neighbours.
Sudan, Egypt, and Ethiopia have held dozens of rounds of talks in the past ten years, but have failed to agree on how soon the dam should be filled. Cairo and Khartoum fear the project may affect their share of water and seriously damage their nations' economies and agriculture.