GERD deal balances Ethiopia's right to development and Egypt's right to life: Cairo

Ahram Online , Tuesday 3 Mar 2020

Bassam Rady
File Photo: Egypt's Presidency Spokesperson Bassam Rady (Photo: Courtesy of Spokesperson Facebook Page)

A trilateral agreement on the operation and filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) deal which was signed by Egypt in Washington last week is “fair and balanced,” preserving Ethiopia's right to development and Egypt's right to the Nile water which is a right to life, presidential spokesman Bassam Rady said on Tuesday evening.

In a telephone call to Al-Hayat Al-Youm current affairs show on Al-Hayat channel, Rady said that the deal, which Ethiopia and Sudan have not yet signed, does not prevent the construction of the GERD but "rather regulates the filling and operation of the water through the GERD.”

"The deal does not touch the right of Ethiopia in construction or development or generating electricity through the dam. It recognises the construction, the start of filling and operation, but according to rules that preserve Egypt's right to life," he said.

The deal is fair and balanced, the spokesman said of the deal, which was sponsored by the US Treasury and the World Bank after rounds of talks between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia.

On Tuesday, US President Donald Trump called Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi in order to discuss the latest developments concerning the mega-dam, expressing his appreciation that Egypt had signed the GERD deal, according to a separate statement by Rady.

Also on Tuesday, Ethiopia's foreign and irrigation ministers accused the US of being "undiplomatic" in its push to resolve the row, but vowed to continue with talks.

The ministers added in a joint press conference that Ethiopia would start filling the dam next July.

Egypt is worried Ethiopia will fill the reservoir too quickly, reducing water flow downstream.

Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan were expected to sign a final deal on the mega-dam during the two-day talks that concluded in Washington on Friday, but Ethiopia skipped the meetings citing incomplete domestic discussions.

Egypt initialled the deal and called on Ethiopia and Sudan to do the same.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Tuesday that Washington was disappointed after Ethiopia skipped last week's talks.

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