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Egypt's Sisi, Ethiopia's Prime Minister Ahmed discuss GERD on the sidelines of the Russia-Africa Summit in Sochi

The Kremlin announced on Thursday that Russian President Valdimir Putin had offered to mediate between Egypt and Ethiopia in the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) talks

Ahram Online , Thursday 24 Oct 2019
File Photo: Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi (Egyptian presidency spokesman official facebook)

Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi met with Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on the sidelines of the Russia-Africa Summit held in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi on Thursday.

The current talks between the two leaders focused on a number of issues of mutual concern as well as challenges facing the region.

The 45-minute meeting took place "in a positive atmosphere," an Egyptian diplomatic source told AFP without providing further details.

Meanwhile, the Kremlin announced Thursday that Putin had offered to mediate between Egypt and Ethiopia on the GERD issue. The Russian offer comes two days after Egypt's foreign ministry said it had accepted an invitation from the US administration to host a meeting of the foreign ministers of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia in Washington to discuss the GERD, without specifying a date.

Last week, Ethiopia affirmed its firm stand not to accept any mediation other than the tripartite consultations on the filling and operation of GERD. The Office of the Prime Minister announced that Ethiopia was ready to resolve any differences and outstanding concerns by consultation among the three riparian countries.

In the same statement, Egypt's Foreign Ministry said it was “shocked” by the statements attributed to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed before the Ethiopian parliament, which included “negative signals and unacceptable hints” on the GERD issue.
Ahmed said on Tuesday that his country was ready to mobilise "millions" if it came to war over the construction of the mega-dam Addis Ababa was building on the Blue Nile, though he stressed that settling the dispute through negotiations was in everyone's best interest.

Tensions have been building up between Egypt and Ethiopia in recent weeks after talks on the technical details governing the operation of the dam failed to make progress.

Egypt fears that the Ethiopian dam will diminish its water supply, which is dependent on the Nile, and has been pushing for an agreement Ethiopia will fill the reservoir slowly, to avoid this.

But Ethiopia maintains that the hydroelectric dam, which is nearly 70 percent complete, will not restrict the river’s flow, and while Egypt is requesting a period of seven years Addis Ababa insists on a three-year filling time.

Earlier this month, El-Sisi’s office said the two leaders had agreed in a phone call to overcome any obstacles facing negotiations on the operation of the dam. The call came after El-Sisi had congratulated Ahmed on Facebook on winning the Nobel Peace Prize.

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