ISMAILIA, Egypt: As Ethiopia continues building a dam on the Nile River, Egypt’s president has issued a stark warning to do nothing to slow the flow of water into Egypt.

President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi said on March 31 that Nile River water flowing into Egypt is “unouchable”, in a warning to Ethiopia.

Ethiopia is building the dam between the Nile Basin countries, which also includes Sudan.

The consequence of building the dam could cause “instability that no one can imagine”, if no agreement is reached with Egypt, el-Sissi said.

“No one can take a single drop of water from Egypt, and whoever wants to try it, let him try,” he said, as quoted by the Associated Press.

These were Egypt’s boldest comments about the dam in years.

El-Sissi made his remarks during a news conference in the city of Ismailia.

“I repeat that the waters of Egypt are untouchable, and touching them is a red line,” he said.

At the same time, el-Sissi said Egypt will continue to negotiate with Ethiopia to resolve the dispute before Ethiopia continues filling the dam’s giant reservoir during this year’s rainy season.

Addis Ababa began filling the reservoir last July, a move that increased tensions and was criticized by Egypt and Sudan.

“Our battle is a battle of negotiations,” the Egyptian leader said, noting that he hopes a legally binding agreement based on international laws and norms that govern cross-border rivers could be reached.