File photo: A boat cruises along the river Nile (Reuters)
Sudan is not conceding its share of surplus water from the River Nile to Egypt, a spokesman for the Sudanese government said nearly a week after a Washington-hosted meeting between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan was held to finalise an agreement over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) by end of February.
Faisal Mohamed Saleh, Sudanese government spokesman and minister of culture and information, dismissed reports that Khartoum was conceding its share to Egypt.
“This matter was not put forward in any phase of negotiations between the three countries,” he said.
Saleh’s statements came during a briefing by the Sudanese government headed by Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdock on the latest meetings held in Washington between the foreign and irrigation ministers of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan, with the and the US Treasury and the World Bank attending as observers.
Last week, Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan agreed to entrust the US and the World Bank with the preparation of the final agreement on the filling and operation of the GERD, according to a joint statement by the five parties.
The agreement will be reviewed within the coming few days and signed by the end of the month, the statement said.
Faisal said the US side has shifted from an observer to a "direct mediator" during the negotiations, adding that the US is currently working on drafting a final agreement after having received proposals by the three countries.
The final agreement will be presented to the three countries later for feedback, he said, adding that if an agreement is sealed, a signing ceremony attended by the heads of state and governments of the three countries would be held in Washington.
Tensions have been building up between Egypt and Ethiopia in recent months after talks on the technical details governing the operation of the dam had failed to make progress.
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, but Cairo fears the project will diminish its water supply from the Nile, a lifeline for a country of 100 million people.