Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt could be close to reaching solutions over the issues related to the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) after the involvement of the US and the World Bank as observers in the dam negotiations, Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed told the country's parliament, according to Ethiopia's state news agency ENA.
During a question-and-answer session held in parliament on Monday, the prime minister said that the negotiations between the three countries over the dam had been "tiresome, long and fruitless," which led to the involvement of the World Bank and the US as observers.
Ahmed stressed that Ethiopia will not enter into any agreement that harms "its national interest" nor causes significant harm to the downstream countries.
He reiterated his country’s commitment to "the principle-based stance of win-win solutions."
During the session in parliament, which addressed various other economic and political topics, the Ethiopian prime minister underscored that “our support of Somalia is visible evidence that we never intend to cause harm to our neighbours.”
The ministers of foreign affairs and water resources of Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan had agreed on a detailed schedule for the filling and operating of the dam during the latest round of negotiations in Washington held in late January.
A final and comprehensive agreement with the detailed schedule is set to be formulated by technical and legal teams from the three countries over the next two weeks, but it will be subject to a final look during a ministerial-level meeting in the US capital on 12-13 February prior to the signing by the end of the month.
The US stepped up to host negotiations in November after the three countries announced that talks had reached a dead-end, and after Egypt asked for an international mediator.
Tensions had been building between Egypt and Ethiopia over some technical details regarding the operation and filing of the dam.
Ethiopia hopes that the massive $4.8 billion project on the Blue Nile, which has been under construction since 2011, will allow it to become Africa’s largest power exporter.
Egypt, which is downstream from the dam, fears that the project will diminish its share of Nile water, on which it is almost entirely reliant for its fresh water.