Egypt rejects Ethiopian and Sudanese statements on GERD talks' failure

Ahram Online , Thursday 12 Apr 2018

Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam construction (Photo: Reuters)

An Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman has rejected comments by Ethiopian and Sudanese officials that he said blamed Egypt for the failure of a recent round of tripartite talks on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

“Egypt participated in the Khartoum talks with positive intentions and a firm desire to reach an agreement that implements the directives of the leaders of the three countries, aiming to reach solutions to break the current stalemate in the technical negotiations of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam,” the Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid said on Thursday.

Abu Zeid added that all Egyptian stances during the technical and political meetings on the GERD cannot be doubted, affirming that Egypt had showed flexibility in the talks, with the aim of reaching a consensus that serves the interests of all three countries.

The spokesman pointed to Egypt's proposal to involve the World Bank in the stalled technical negotiations over the dam as proof of its goodwill in negations.

Abu Zeid said that Shoukry delivered a message on Wednesday to his Sudanese and Ethiopian counterparts, calling for a second meeting in Cairo to resume discussions.

"This move affirms Egypt's keenness to reach an agreement to resume the technical track, and that Egypt cannot be a hindrance to reach this consensus as was circulated in the media,” he said.

The talks, which took place last week in Khartoum, were the latest in a series of negotiations aimed at resolving an impasse in negotiations over studies conducted to determine the impact of the dam on the downstream countries of Egypt and Sudan.

The talks involved the foreign and irrigation ministers and the intelligence chiefs of each country.

Speaking last Friday, Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry announced that the talks had not yielded “significant results.”

On Thursday, Ethiopian Foreign Ministry spokesman Meles Alem told reporters that Egypt requested Ethiopia recognise a 1959 treaty between Sudan and Egypt on sharing the waters of the Nile, a request he described as a “red line” for Ethiopia, as the agreement was signed without Ethiopia’s presence.

“There was a lack of goodwill on Egypt’s part to move the consultations forward,” Alem said, adding that the three water ministers nevertheless plan to meet again “soon.”

According to the 1959 agreement, Egypt is entitled to 55.5 billion cubic metres of Nile water per year, while Sudan is entitled to 18 billion cubic metres. Ethiopia and other Nile Basin countries were not parties to the agreement.

Sudanese Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour has earlier said that the talks had failed to achieve any significant results, adding that the ministries of irrigation in the three countries will hold further meetings to look into the technical disagreements.

The Ethiopian government began construction of the Grand Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile near the border with Sudan in 2011, as part of a development plan aimed at eradicating poverty and generating electricity.

Over the past seven years, Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan have held several rounds of talks on the dam’s anticipated impact on Nile water resources.

Egypt has expressed concern the dam could adversely affect its share of Nile water.

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