Egyptian FM Shoukry to head to Addis Ababa next week to discuss GERD: Spox

Ahram Online , Ahram Online , Thursday 21 Dec 2017

File Photo: A general view shows construction activity on the Grand Renaissance dam in Guba Woreda, Benishangul Gumuz region in March, 2014 (Photo: Reuters)

Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry is set to visit Addis Ababa next week to discuss specific ideas to overcome the stalemate in the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam’s (GERD) technical negotiations, the ministry has said.

Ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid announced the trip on Thursday during an interview on a morning talk show on CBC Extra channel. 

Egypt's Minister of Irrigation Mohamed Abdel-Ati had said that the tripartite ministerial meeting between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan held in Cairo in Novemebr to discuss a preliminary technical report on the impact of the dam had failed to reach a consensus.

Abu Zeid stressed Egypt’s keenness to resume talks on the GERD technical negotiations as soon as possible, saying that Cairo is currently assessing if the stalemate is "intentional," or due to differences in point of views on issues between both countries. 

The spokesman said there are disagreements on the report issued in October 2017 by the European firms which were agreed upon by the the three sides to assess the impact of the dam on water shares of Nile basin countries.

“Egypt is always committed to the references agreed upon by the international committee that established the cornerstone of the GERD technical studies, and the consulting firms should be committed to formulate the method of these studies according to the aspects previously agreed upon,” Abu Zeid added. 

Abu Zeid also pointed to ongoing preparations for the Ethiopian prime minister visit to Egypt. 

“Egypt is prepared to address any possible emergent scenarios and has a clear vision to face any challenge related to the technical studies or to the construction of the dam,” he said.

“The main mission of the consulting firms is to be objective in their studies on the effects of the dam’s construction from a scientific, not political perspective,” he added. 

He said that Egypt had never aimed to obstruct the construction of the dam and is interested in its construction and production of electricity, however this all should be without any harm to Egypt’s share or usage on Nile water, which is a national security issue.

Ethiopia has been constructing the Renaissance Dam since 2011 on the Blue Nile.

Egypt has repeatedly voiced concerns over the construction of the dam on the basis that it would reduce its share of Nile water, which currently stands at 55.5 billion cubic metres per year according to a 1959 treaty.

Abu Zeid said that Egypt considers the declaration of principles, which was signed by the leaders of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan in Khartoum in 2015, as the main reference in the matter.

He said that Egyptian-Ethiopian relations had witnessed important developments during the past two years, represented by President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi’s visit to Addis Ababa and the establishment of a high joint committee between the two nations, in addition to the continues ongoing communication between the foreign ministers to build mutual trust. 

“We don’t want to lose [this trust] after all that we have achieved in building a unique relation between the two countries,” Abu Zeid said, describing the GERD issue as “highly significant” for Egypt and Ethiopia.

In October the Ethiopian government announced that the construction of its 6,450 megawatts dam was 62 percent complete.

During their last meeting in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations’ General Assembly in September, Shoukry told his Ethiopian counterpart Workneh Gebeyehu that Cairo is concerned about the slow progress of technical studies on the dam.

Shoukry expressed Egypt's concern about the inactivity of the tripartite technical committee assigned to study the effects of the dam on downstream countries.

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