Fundamental differences over GERD persist: Egypt's irrigation ministry

Ahram Online , Monday 6 Jul 2020

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (photo: Reuters)

Egypt said on Monday fundamental technical and legal differences over the disputed Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) still exist.

Egypt made the announcement on the fourth consecutive day of the new online round of talks between Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia held under the aegis of the African Union (AU) in the attendance of 11 observers representing the EU, United States, AU Commission, South Africa and the AU's legal and technical experts.

The Monday meeting commenced with reference to Sunday's talks held between each country and observers, during which each country presented its point of view in both the technical and legal aspects, Egypt’s irrigation ministry said.

The ministry added that the points of disagreement between Egypt and Ethiopia were presented during the meeting while offering alternatives and formulations to reach consensus, but the differences are still substantial in both tracks.

The statement added that the three countries agreed to resume talks on Tuesday while holding two parallel meetings for the technical and legal teams before holding bilateral meetings between each country separately with the observers.

Talks resumed last Friday between the three countries in response to a call from South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa, the current chairperson of the AU.

The previous round of negotiations between the three countries, held from 9 to 17 June, failed to produce an accord due to Ethiopia's refusal to enter into a legally binding agreement and its announcement that it will begin filling the dam in July with or without the approval of the two downstream countries.

In response Egypt appealed to the UN Security Council to intervene to preserve international peace and stability. 

The Security Council held an open online session last week during which members of the international body agreed that talks between the countries involved in the GERD dispute should be conducted on the basis of mutual understanding.

The council urged Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia, engaged in a decade-long dispute over the hydropower project, against adopting unilateral actions. 

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