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Egypt is 'always willing' to negotiate over Nile dam in good faith: Minister

Ahram Online , Monday 22 Jun 2020
Sameh Shoukry
File photo: Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry (Photo: AP)

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said on Monday that Egypt has participated in negotiations over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam in good faith over the past decade, and stressed that Egypt will always be willing to engage in negotiation to reach an agreement that meets the interests of all sides.

Shoukry's statement was in response to the claim by the Ethiopian foreign minister that Egypt’s recent request that the United Nation Security Council intervene in the dam issue was tantamount to an escape from negotiations.

Last week, Egypt lodged a formal complaint with the Security Council just hours after the Ethiopian foreign minister said his country would commence with the filling of the dam’s reservoir regardless of whether it reaches a deal in the tripartite negotiations with Egypt and Sudan.

Egypt, which is almost entirely reliant on the Nile for agriculture and drinking water, fears the filling process will significantly reduce the flow of Nile water, while Ethiopia has dismissed Egypt’s concerns and says the project is key to its own development efforts.

Minister Shoukry said that Egypt is willing to resume the talks immediately if Ethiopia declares that it will comply with its international obligations that it will not unilaterally fill the dam’s reservoir.

Meanwhile, Ethiopia has maintained its intransigent position concerning the controversial dam as Foreign Minister, Gedu Andargachew said on Monday that his country would not accept any agreement that could deny its future development rights on Nile River.

Ethiopia's state news agency ENA quoted Andargachew as saying that "any negotiations which could deny Ethiopia`s right on fair utilisation of Nile or any future plans to construct other projects is totally unacceptable."

He pointed out "there are no internal or external forces will stop Ethiopia from realising the Dam."

The standoff between Egypt and Ethiopia came to a head after the breakdown of after the recent Sudan-brokered negotiations, held from 9 to 17 June, where Ethiopia refused to enter into a legally binding agreement over the controversial project.

Negotiations over Ethiopia’s giant $4.8 billion hydropower project started in 2011 between Egypt, Ethiopian, Sudan.

In February, prior to the Sudan-brokered talks, Ethiopia skipped the last round of negotiations mediated by the US and accused Washington of siding with Egypt.

Last month, Sudan asked the UN Security Council to encourage all parties to refrain from taking any unilateral actions, and Egypt urged the bloc to call on Ethiopia to not act unilaterally by filling the reservoir.

In response, Addis Ababa told the UN body that it “does not have a legal obligation to seek the approval of Egypt to fill the dam.”

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