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Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan to resume GERD talks Tuesday: AU chairman

GERD negotiations will resume following a seven-week hiatus due to persistent disagreement over a binding deal on the filling and operation of the dam

Menna Alaa El-Din , Monday 26 Oct 2020
South African President
File Photo: South African President and AU chairman President Cyril Ramaphosa. REUTERS
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Views: 3677

Talks between Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan on the disputed Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) will resume on Tuesday, read a statement on Monday by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who is the current chair of the African Union (AU).

The GERD negotiations will resume following a seven-week hiatus due to persistent disagreement over a binding deal on the filling and operation of the dam.

According to the statement, the resumption of negotiations “is indicative of the strong political will and commitment by the leadership of the three parties involved in the negotiations to the peaceful and amicable solution of the GERD matter."

“It is a reaffirmation of the confidence that the parties have in an African-led negotiations process,” he said, adding that the resumption of talks came following “extensive consultations” with the concerned leaders of the GERD dispute.

Ramaphosa expressed his "utmost confidence that the parties will reach agreement on the remaining issues, including those related to the technical and legal aspects of the negotiations."

Egypt, which heavily relies on its crucial water supplies from the River Nile, exited talks in late August after the three countries failed to reach a consensus on the legal and technical points of contention after Ethiopia proposed a package of non-binding guidelines for the filling and operation of the mega-dam.

The resumption of negotiations comes a few days following the rift between Ethiopia and the US when President Donald Trump laid the blame squarely on Ethiopia for the failure of negotiations.

"It's a very dangerous situation because Egypt is not going to be able to live that way," Trump told Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok in a phone call on Friday after Sudan and Israel announced the normalisation of ties.

Trump said he had brokered a deal to resolve the crisis but that Ethiopia had broken the pact, pushing him to slash funds.

"They will never see that money unless they adhere to the agreement... You can't blame Egypt for being a little upset,” he said.

"I said it and I say it loud and clear," they could "blow up that dam," he added.

In response, Ethiopia summoned US Ambassador to Addis Ababa Mike Raynor to seek clarification of the comments, describing them as an “incitement of war."

The GERD, built 15 kilometres from the Ethiopian border with Sudan, has been a source of contention between the three countries since its construction began in 2010.

The first filling of the controversial dam took place this summer, despite Ethiopia not having reached a binding agreement with its downstream neighbours.

Cairo fears the massive hydropower project will significantly cut its crucial water supplies from the River Nile, while Sudan fears it could endanger the safety of its own dams.

Ethiopia says the 6,000-megawatt dam is key to its development and hopes to become Africa’s biggest electricity exporter. 

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