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Ethiopia to boost defense spending amid tensions with Egypt over Nile dam development

The Ethiopian government is set to increase defense spending by more than 15 percent, a rise that comes amid tensions with Egypt over the building of a new dam on the Nile River.

Cairo says the Ethiopian dam project, set to become Africa's largest, could diminish its share of Nile River waters, which provides almost all of the desert nation's water needs.

Ethiopia's parliament on Wednesday debated the proposed budget, which would increase defense spending to $400 million, up from about $350 million. The parliament is scheduled to approve the budget on Thursday.

Getachew Reda, a spokesman for Hailemariam, insists the defense increase has nothing to do with the recent disputes with Egypt. Getachew told The Associated Press the increase corresponds to the country's growing economy.