Egypt says Ethiopia withheld security system info and construction updates on GERD during negotiations

Ahram Online , Tuesday 30 Jun 2020

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry speaks during an interview with The Associated Press at his office, in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, June 21, 2020 AP

Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said on Tuesday that Ethiopia had withheld updates on the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) and its security systems from the technical committees during the trilateral negotiations between the two countries and Sudan.

“There are potential risks from GERD facing Sudan considering that it is nearer to the dam. Egypt also faces those risks,” he told Sky News Arabia channel on Tuesday.

He added that Egypt and Sudan were coordinating on the issue of GERD to reach a balanced and fair agreement that does not harm the downstream countries.

“Egypt is still committed to the diplomatic path on the GERD issue and has been flexible in the negotiations, but we did not reach an agreement because of the Ethiopian stance,” he told the channel.

Shoukry also said that Ethiopia had rejected any mediation for six years, adding that it had rejected the World Bank’s mediation despite the 2015 Declaration of Principles which supports mediation between the three countries.

“Resorting to International arbitration is bound by a prior agreement between all parties,” he said.

The minister said Egypt had gone to the UN Security Council because the talks had reached a deadlock.

On Monday, the Security Council held an open session to discuss the issue at the request of Egypt. Shoukry addressed the council, saying that a unilateral filling and operation of the mega-dam without an agreement with the two downstream countries would heighten tensions and stir crises and conflicts in “an already troubled region.”

Ethiopia has in recent days signalled it remains adamant on filling the dam in July, despite statements by Egypt and Sudan on Friday following an AU-brokered meeting that Addis Ababa would delay the filling of GERD.

The previous round of talks, brokered by Sudan, collapsed earlier this month as Ethiopia refused to enter into a binding agreement. Addis Ababa insisted at the time it would begin filling the dam in July with or without an agreement.

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