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Tuesday, 26 May 2020

Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan to resume technical talks on GERD

Zeinab El-Gundy , Thursday 21 May 2020
GERD
The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (photo: Reuters)
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Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan have agreed to resume the technical discussions on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), Khartoum and Addis Ababa announced jointly on Thursday.

The agreement came following virtual talks between Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Thursday.

According to the official Sudanese news agency and Ethiopian news agency, the online meeting was attended by the foreign and irrigation ministers and intelligence chiefs of both countries.

During the online session, Sudanese and Ethiopian officials agreed on the importance of resuming the talks to complete "the easy part left of the negotiations on the filing and operations of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam according to what was agreed in Washington."

Abiy responded to "concerns raised by the Sudanese side; clarity was provided on environmental issues, dam safety and data exchange facilitation," according to a statement from the office of the premier, published by the Ethiopian news agency.

Abiy said that his country was ready to cooperate with Egypt and Sudan to reach a final agreement that safeguards the interests of the three countries.

Hamdok also said that Sudan was ready to continue working with Egypt and Ethiopia to reach a fair agreement.

The online talks between Hamdok and Abiy are the first after a diplomatic war of words between Egypt and Ethiopia reached the UN Security Council.

On 1 May, Egypt sent a letter to the head of Security Council about the GERD crisis after the failure of the three countries to reach an agreement on its filling and operation during US-brokered negotiations earlier this year.

The negotiations between the three countries stalled in February after Ethiopia skipped the final round of talks. Of the three countries, only Egypt initialled the resulting draft agreement.

Egypt and Sudan had rejected an Ethiopian deal released on 10 April proposing a “partial agreement” that would only cover the first stage of the filling.

Egypt revealed at the beginning of May that it had addressed the United Nations Security Council detailing the stages of GERD talks and its concerns.

On 11 May, Ethiopia said it would start filling its mega-dam in July despite not reaching an agreement with the two downstream countries and also sent a 22-page letter to the UNSC claiming it “does not have a legal obligation to seek the approval of Egypt to fill the dam.”

On Tuesday, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan to peacefully resolve any disagreements on GERD and to achieve a mutually beneficial agreement.

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