The spokesperson of the Egyptian Irrigation Ministry Mohamed El-Sebaie said Egypt is keen on reaching consensus regarding the disputed Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) during the ongoing online talks, which set off on Tuesday, but without returning back to square one.
The irrigation ministries of Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia started online talks on the GERD in the attendance of observers from the US, the EU and South Africa.
The virtual talks come on the back of Sudan's endeavours to bring back the concerned parties to the table following an escalating war of words between Cairo and Addis Ababa.
In an interview with MBC Masr satellite channel over the phone on Thursday, El-Sebaie said "Egypt is keen on achieving joint gains [for the three countries] without harming any party, and without returning back to point zero. I mean we will not start from the beginning."
He stressed Egypt’s four conditions during the virtual meeting: Egypt demands confirmation from Ethiopia it would take no “unilateral action” on filling the dam until an agreement is reached; a specific timeframe from 9 to 13 June to reach an agreement on the filling and operation of the dam; talks should be based on the terms of reference to the Washington and World Bank-brokered document in February; and that the observers who have been attending the meetings act as “facilitators.”
"We hope to reach [an agreement] that satisfies all sides ... and feel there is a genuine will on all sides to reach consensus... if there is no will, we will never reach consensus," he added.
The spokesman noted that the Sudanese side doesn't support one side more than the other, adding that Sudan is a main partner in the negotiations because it has direct interests and each country is keen on attaining its objectives.
"The target is not to reach a conflict of interests," he stressed.
The ongoing talks are the first between the three sides since February, when the Washington and World Bank-mediated negotiations came to a halt after Ethiopia pulled out of a meeting in Washington.
When talks between the three African countries reached a deadlock last October the US stepped in to act as an observer of negotiations.