Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan resume GERD negotiations

Ahram Online , Sunday 16 Aug 2020

The talks were originally scheduled for Monday after Sudan requested last week to adjourn the talks for 'internal consultations'

FILE PHOTO: Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam is seen as it undergoes construction work on the river Nile in Guba Woreda, Benishangul Gumuz Region, Ethiopia September 26, 2019. REUTERS

Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan have resumed negotiations on the disputed Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on Sunday, one day earlier than the previously scheduled talks amid efforts to break the deadlock in reaching an agreement over the dam.

Egypt’s foreign ministry spokesman Ahmed Hafez posted a tweet on Sunday on the beginning of negotiations through video conference between the irrigation, water resources, and foreign ministers of the three countries on the filling and operation of the dam.

The talks were originally scheduled for Monday after Sudan requested last week an adjournment for one week for "internal consultations."

Sudan had threatened to withdraw from the talks, which are sponsored by the African Union, if Ethiopia insisted on linking an agreement on the dam’s filling to negotiating a deal on sharing the waters of the Blue Nile.

On Saturday, Egypt and Sudan called for an agreement on the GERD that would preserve the interests of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia, in accordance with the 2015 Agreement on the Declaration of Principles, as well as the principle of the just and equitable use of water while not causing significant harm, and the relevant principles of international law.

In a joint statement read out by Sudan’s Information Minister Faisal Mohammed Saleh during a press conference held in Khartoum by Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Mabdouly and his Sudanese counterpart Abdalla Hamdok, the two sides highlighted the importance of agreeing on an effective and binding mechanism for settling disputes, as well as a mechanism for coordination between the three countries to ensure the safe operation of all water installations and projects affected by the GERD.

Negotiations to reach a deal over the filling and operation of the nearly $5 billion GERD had resumed last week following a brief suspension requested by Cairo and Khartoum after Addis Ababa put forward a new draft proposal that Cairo complained was lacking operating guidelines and any legally binding obligations.

The mega-dam, built 15 kilometres from the Ethiopian border with Sudan, has been a source of tension between the three nations. Cairo fears the project will significantly cut its water supply from the River Nile, while Sudan fears it will endanger the safety of its own dams.

More to follow…

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