Egypt regrets lack of response from Ethiopia and Sudan to invitation to discuss dam on Friday, says FM Shoukry

Ahram Online , Thursday 19 Apr 2018

FM Shoukry
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry (AFP)

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said on Thursday in a TV interview that Egypt regrets that Ethiopia and Sudan have failed to respond to an invitation by Cairo to meet on Friday to continue talks on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

In an interview with Egyptian TV channel CBC Extra on the sidelines of an official visit to Burundi, Minister Shoukry said that during the last round of talks in Khartoum, Egypt negotiated in good faith and with appreciation for the interests of Ethiopia and Sudan.

The minister said that Egypt has made proposals that meet everyone’s interests, adding that Cairo presents a vision that benefits everyone, and not one that only serves its own interests.

Egypt had invited the ministers of foreign affairs and irrigation, as well as the heads of the intelligence agencies of Ethiopia and Sudan, for another round talks on the impact technical studies being conducted on Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

In January, the leaders of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia set a timeline of one month -- from 5 April to 5 May -- during which the three countries would reach an agreement on technical issues regarding the construction of the dam.

"Losing more time will make it more difficult to reach a solution to these technical problems, we only have 15 days left," Shoukry said.

The minister also said that Egypt has approved the initial report presented by the  consultancy firm tasked with studying the potential impact of the dam on downstream countries, but that Ethiopia has rejected the report.

Shoukry said that Ethiopia’s position is stalling progress on the matter.

“Despite all our efforts, we do not see a reciprocal effort from the other side… so, we will wait until there is a desire from our partners to raise the matter once more,” the minister said.

Shoukry also stressed that everybody should know that Egypt will not be forced to accept a situation where one party is forcing its will on another.

“The Egyptian government will continue to defend the rights of the Egyptian people to the water of the Nile by numerous means at its disposal,” he said.

The minister also dismissed any claim that Egypt is the reason behind the lack of progress during the last round of talks, which took place earlier in April in Khartoum.

Egypt has been flexible in meeting the demands of the Ethiopia and Sudan during the technical negotiations even when these demands were not mandated by the text of the 2015 agreement, Shoukry explained.

"Egypt has nothing to fear and nothing to hide," he added. “Egypt is conducting itself with transparency, and any claim to the contrary is an attempt to confuse the issue and distract from the reality of the situation and from who it is that is actually obstructing progress on the issue.”

Egypt has repeatedly expressed concern that the Ethiopian dam would reduce its share of Nile water.

However, Ethiopia has insisted that the dam will cause no harm to Egypt.

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