CAIRO/ADDIS ABABA - Egypt's armed forces are not yet involved in a dispute with Ethiopia over a giant dam on the Nile, a spokesman for the general staff said on Wednesday, playing down bellicose rhetoric between Cairo and Addis Ababa.
"This is not a military issue at this stage," Ahmed Mohamed Ali told Reuters after days of irate exchanges between Africa's second and third most populous nations over a new hydroelectric plant that Egypt fears will reduce its vital water supply.
On Monday, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi said he did not want "war" but would keep "all options open", prompting Ethiopia to say it was ready to defend the Great Renaissance Dam.
Egypt's previous military rulers had warned against such projects in the past and last week Egyptian politicians were caught on camera discussing air strikes or offering support to Ethiopian rebels.
"It's too early to involve the army in this problem at the moment," Ali said.
Earlier on Wednesday, Egypt's armed forces' chief-of-staff issued a statement saying that the military was "ready and able to protect the nation and preserve its sacred sites".
General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi made the comments during a training exercise that included special forces paratroopers, according to a statement on his Facebook page.