Ethiopia and Sudan are committed to making all efforts to reach “a successful conclusion” in the trilateral negotiations on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), the two countries’ leaders said in a joint statement on Tuesday.
Such a conclusion would lead to a win-win situation for all parties, which would make the dam a means of “territorial integration” between the riparian states, the statement also said.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and his Sudanese counterpart Abdalla Hamdok held bilateral discussions in Khartoum on Tuesday.
According to the statement, the pair stressed their commitment to the mediation efforts of the AU, which has brokered this round of talks on the mega-dam, under the principle of “African solutions to African problems.”
The two premiers praised progress in addressing outstanding issues related to the border line and areas, ordering joint mechanisms to continue their tasks “in the same spirit of cooperation and fairness” to reach solutions agreeable to both parties.
An Ethiopian delegation including the Ethiopian irrigation, defence and foreign ministers landed in the Sudanese capital on Tuesday morning for a one-day visit, which comes amid continuing disputes between Addis Ababa, Khartoum, and Cairo over the hydroelectric project on the Blue Nile.
Abiy said the fate of Ethiopia and Sudan are "intertwined” and are “rooted in longstanding historic and strategic relations," according to a separate statement released by the Ethiopian prime minister's office following the meeting.
"We are one people, one family … any issues, including in relation to the GERD and borders, can be addressed amicably through continued and sustained good faith discussions," Abiy was quoted as saying.
The mega-dam, which is being built 15 kilometres from the Ethiopian-Sudanese border, has been a source of contention for nearly a decade, as Cairo fears it will significantly reduce its crucial water supply from the River Nile, while Sudan fears it could endanger the safety of its own dams.
Egypt and Sudan have sought a legally binding deal on the filling and operation of the dam, while an Ethiopian proposed draft contained guidelines.
Trilateral legal and technical committees are engaged in a week-long round of negotiations, to end on Friday, over outstanding points of disagreement.
The committees are scheduled to submit a report to South Africa, the current chair of the African Union, this weekend.
The AU-mediated talks were launched last month after the negotiations between the three countries reached a deadlock last year, as did negotiations sponsored by the US and World Bank in February.
"The complementary nature of both countries compels them to work together for mutual benefit," said Hamdok, according to the Tuesday bilateral statement.
"With strengthened collaborations on the economic front, Ethiopia and Sudan’s economies can be a catalyst for progress in the Horn region and Africa," he also said.
The two sides had affirmed solidarity for each other’s endeavours and agreed to settle any issues through continued dialogue and negotiations, the statement read.
The Ethiopian premier's statement said Tuesday's visit came on the heels of the one-year anniversary of the signing of the constitutional declaration, facilitated by Abiy, which enabled the formation of Sudan’s transitional government.
He congratulated the Sudanese government on what he described as "the milestones" achieved since then.