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Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Egypt FM heading to Ethiopia Tuesday to 'break deadlock' in Renaissance Dam negotiations

Monday 25 Dec 2017
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry  (AFP)
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry (AFP)
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Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shoukry is set to arrive in Ethiopia on Tuesday for talks with his Ethiopian counterpart Workneh Gebeyehu to "break the deadlock" regarding the work of the tripartite technical committee of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan, which is studying the effects of construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on downstream countries.

The committee will be seeking to reach consensus on ways to avoid harm to all three parties.

In an official statement on Monday, Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid said Shoukry's visit comes as an effort by Cairo to resolve disagreements, based on Egypt's full commitment to the framework of the March 2015 trilateral agreement known as the Declaration of Principles signed by Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia.

The statement stressed that the declaration requires all parties to adhere to the findings of independent foreign consultancy firms on the number of years Ethiopia could fill the dam without harming the water share of downstream countries.

The ministry said Egypt has good will and a desire to build trust with the other parties, but is keen on the preservation of Egypt’s legitimate water interests.

According to Abu Zeid, Shoukry is set to offer suggestions and ideas to other parties with the aim of helping them promptly adopt the finding of the initial report prepared by the foreign consultancy firms.

Egypt is concerned because of the delay in adopting the findings of the technical studies since they will determine the impact of the construction of the dam on Egypt's water share, the statement read.

Shoukry, however, hopes that both Egyptian and Ethiopian negotiators will be able to reach a consensus that would break the current deadlock, in consultation and agreement with Sudan, the statement explained.

The Egyptian foreign minister is expected during the visit to prepare with his Ethiopian counterpart for the upcoming visit by Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn to Egypt in January, according to the spokesman.

The statement by Abu Zeid comes one day after Egypt's presidency spokesman Bassam Rady said that Cairo is committed to a peaceful course in negotiations on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), yet reiterating that Egypt’s supply of Nile water is "a matter of life or death for the country,” a statement often restated by Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi in talks over the dam.

Last November, negotiations between the three countries broke down over how to conduct technical studies of the dam's potential impact on downstream countries, where Egypt approved of the initial report by the European consultancy firms, though Ethiopia and Sudan demanded major amendments to the proposed studies.

It is unclear what kind of amendments were pushed by both Ethiopia and Sudan.

The dam, situated near Ethiopia's border with Sudan, is slated for completion this year and expected to generate 6,000 megawatts of electricity.

Ethiopia hopes to be able to export electricity generated by the dam, which will be the largest hydroelectric power plant in Africa.

Egypt, however, has expressed concerns that the dam might reduce its share of Nile water.

Ethiopia maintains that the dam will not have any negative impact on Egypt or Sudan.

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