Sudan's FM says agreement on Ethiopian dam could be reached by end of December

Ahram Online , Wednesday 16 Dec 2015

Ghandour tells MENA that Khartoum is doing its best to keep negotiations alive, and hopes a deal between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan could be finalised when the officials from the three countries meet again on 27 and 28 December

Sudanese Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour
Sudanese Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour (L) attends a meeting of the tripartite technical committee on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on Decembre 12, 2015 in the Sudanese capital Khartoum. (AFP)

Sudanese Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour told Egyptian state news Agency MENA that he believes an agreement between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia on the controversial Ethiopian Renaissance dam could be reached in the upcoming round of talks set for 27, 28 December.

Ghandour explained to MENA that the last tripartite meeting between the three countries over the dam, which took place in Khartoum last Friday and Saturday, achieved a number of positive results.

Citing Sudanese officials, some Egyptian local media had reported that last weekend's talks have ended in failure.

The Sudanese FM said that the officials preferred not to reveal any of the results to the media, expressing hopes that officials from the three countries reach a consensus on the issue.

"Officials from the three countries agreed not to talk to the media about the accords reached during the last meeting as statements by officials in the media are sometimes taken out of context," the FM said.

Ghandour stressed to MENA that the negotiations concerning the dam are not an easy matter especially because the water problems are considered to be a matter of national security.

"The mission of the three countries is to preserve their own national security," Ghandour said.

Meanwhile, the Sudanese FM stressed that Sudan is not taking sides [between Egypt and Ethiopia] or playing the role of a mediator in the talks. He said that Khartoum is a partner in the talks, and is keen on keeping negotiations alive until an agreement is reached.    

The minister said that officials from Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan are working on mechanisms to implement the principles of declaration signed by heads of states from the three countries in March 2015.

"I cannot tell whether I am optimistic or pessimistic. All that I believe is that we can reach an agreement in the upcoming round of talks," says Ghandour.

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, scheduled to be completed in 2017, will be Africa's largest hydroelectric power plant with a storage capacity of 74 billion cubic metres of water.

Egypt has repeatedly expressed concerns that filling and operating the dam on the Blue Nile will negatively affect it's water supply. Ethiopia has continually rejected these claims.

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