The foreign ministers of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan have agreed to reconvene in Washington on 13 January to resolve a dispute over a giant dam project Ethiopia is building on the Nile River, the US Treasury said in a joint statement.
Foreign ministers and water ministers from the three African countries held talks with US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and World Bank President David Malpass in Washington on Monday to iron out differences over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).
Following the talks, the officials said that progress had been made in earlier meetings held between the water ministers of the three countries in Cairo and Addis Ababa, according to the statement. The meetings were part of a roadmap agreed upon during talks last month in Washington that set a 15 January target for resolving the dispute.
Two more technical meetings are scheduled to take place in the presence of World Bank and US observers in coming weeks focused on drawing up technical rules and guidelines for the filling and operation of the dam. "The Ministers agreed that the strategic direction of the next two technical meetings should be the development of technical rules and guidelines for the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), the definition of drought conditions, and drought mitigation measures to be taken", the statement said.
The talks will also work on water release rates from the dam’s reservoir, it added.
“The implementation of these technical rules and guidelines for the filling and operation of the GERD will be undertaken by Ethiopia, and may be adjusted by the three countries, in accordance with the hydrological conditions in the given year,” the joint statement said.
Cairo fears the massive $4 billion upstream project on Ethiopia's section of the river would drastically cut its water supply from the Nile, which provides 90 percent of Egypt's drinking water. Ethiopia says the hydroelectric dam, which is about 70 percent complete, is central to its economic development and its plan to be a regional power hub.
The foreign ministers will reconvene in Washington on 13 January to review the results of the upcoming technical meetings, which will be held in Khartoum and Addis Ababa, the statement said.