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Water security of Egypt, Sudan is ‘inseparable' from Arab national security: Arab League

Bassem Aly , Tuesday 23 Jun 2020
Ahmed Abul Gheit
A handout picture provided by the Arab League on June 23, 2020, shows Arab League Chief Ahmed Abul Gheit chairing an urgent virtual foreign ministers meeting on Libya following Egypt's request, amid the COVID-19 pandemic in the Egyptian capital Cairo AFP

The foreign ministers of the Arab countries said in a videoconference on Tuesday that the water security of Egypt and Sudan is “inseparable from Arab national security.”

At its extraordinary session, the Arab League issued resolution No. 8524 on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which includes 9 articles.

Backed by all member countries, the resolution called on all parties not to take any unilateral measures. It urged Ethiopia not start filling the dam’s reservoir, without reaching an agreement with the downstream countries.

The decision included the formation of a committee to follow up the issue and coordinate with the United Nations Security Council on all related developments. The committee membership consists of Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Iraq and the Arab League General Secretariat.

During the meeting, held to discuss the situation with the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), the ministers expressed their rejection of any act or measure that would infringe on the rights of Nile Basin countries.

The ministers praised Sudan’s call for holding new rounds of negotiations from 25 May till 17 June in order to reach an agreement about the rules of filling and operating the GERD. They also welcomed UN chief Antonio Guterres’ call for Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia to reach an agreement through negotiations.

The ministers also expressed their deep concern about the unfruitful talks between the three states, stressing the need for resuming negotiations in order to reach a deal that takes into consideration the interests of all parties.

The Arab top diplomats called on all parties not to take unilateral actions, including the filling of the GERD by Ethiopia, without first reaching a deal with the two other countries about the general rules. Otherwise, they argued, this would serve as a direct violation of the Declaration of Principles signed by the three states in Khartoum in March 2015.

They also emphasised the importance of the three countries abiding by international law, as well as resuming technical studies on the socio-economic and environmental impact of the GERD on Egypt and Sudan.

Sudan's state minister for foreign affairs said on Tuesday that Egypt and his country share a consensus about the Arab resolution on the GERD.

Omar Ismail said that both countries have cooperated on this issue, stressing that Sudan is a "key party" in the GERD talks.

Following days of renewed talks between the water ministers of the three countries, which were brokered by Sudan, the negotiations reached a deadlock due to Ethiopia’s "intransigent positions" on both the technical and legal aspects of the deal.

Ethiopia refused to sign a binding agreement between the three countries, insisting on drafting “guiding rules that [it] can unilaterally amend,” Egypt said.

Cairo and Addis Ababa recently sent letters to the United Nations Security Council in the latest escalation in the GERD crisis.

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