Egypt briefs Arab, European ambassadors on developments in GERD dispute

Ahram Online , Thursday 25 Feb 2021

Egypt said the proposed international quartet committee would build up political momentum around the GERD issue

Arab and European Ambassadors in Cairo
A photo showing the Arab and European Ambassadors in Cairo during a meeting with Deputy Foreign Minister for African Affairs Hamdy Loza on Thursday, 25 February 2021, to discuss the latest developments on the GERD dispute (Photo courtesy of the Egyptian foreign ministry)

The Egyptian foreign ministry has briefed Arab and European ambassadors in the country on the latest developments in the decade-long dispute between Cairo, Khartoum and Addis Ababa over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

Deputy Foreign Minister for African Affairs Hamdy Loza held a meeting with the ambassadors in the Egyptian capital on Thursday, where he reviewed Egypt's vision regarding the future of the stalled negotiations.

The deputy minister asserted the necessity of reaching a fair, balanced, and legally-binding deal that details the rules for filling and operating the near-complete Ethiopian hydropower project, a statement by the Egyptian foreign ministry said.

Thursday’s meeting comes amid efforts to revive the stalemated talks days after the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) officially assumed the presidency of the AU, which is the current mediator of the negotiations.

Loza told the ambassadors that Egypt has confidence in Congolese President Félix Tshisekedi’s ability to oversee and achieve progress in the talks between Cairo, Khartoum and Addis Ababa, the statement added.

He also reaffirmed Cairo's support of the Sudanese proposal to form an international quartet committee under the brokerage of the AU and with the participation of the US, the European Union, and the United Nations as observers in a bid to end the impasse.

The Egyptian diplomat said the Sudanese proposal would give the negotiations “political momentum” reflecting the international community's interest and perception of the GERD dispute and the threat it poses to the interests of regional countries.

Since last year, the AU has been mediating the talks between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia over the decade-long dispute caused by the GERD.

The last round of AU negotiations, mediated by South Africa, the former president of the AU, stalled in January due to Khartoum's withdrawal from the latest meetings in objection to the methodology upon which the talks had been held.

Sudan called for granting a bigger role to the experts involved in the talks instead of holding direct discussions between the three nations. Ethiopia, as well as Egypt, rejected Sudan's demand.

The efforts to resolve the crisis come amid worries over controversial plans by Addis Ababa to complete the second filling in July without first reaching an agreement with Cairo and Khartoum.

Ethiopia says the massive project, which it hopes will make it Africa’s largest power exporter, is key to its development efforts, a matter that neither Egypt nor Sudan oppose.

However, Egypt fears the project will significantly cut its crucial water supplies from the River Nile, while Sudan has concerns over how the reservoir will be managed. Both downstream countries insist on reaching binding deals on rules for filling and operating the dam.

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