Cairo is keen to reach fair, balanced deal on GERD, Egypt official tells European ambassadors

Ahram Online , Monday 24 Aug 2020

Deputy Foreign Minister Hamdi Loza held a meeting with the European ambassadors to Egypt on Monday August 24,2020 (photo courtesy of the Egyptian foreign ministry's Facebook page)

Cairo is keen on negotiating with Addis Ababa and Khartoum over the dam Ethiopia is building on the Blue Nile to reach a fair and balanced agreement that preserves Egypt's riparian rights and the interests of the three countries, Deputy Foreign Minister Hamdi Loza told European ambassadors to Egypt.

In a meeting the foreign ministry held with European ambassadors in Cairo on Monday, Loza reviewed the latest developments on the current talks mediated by the African Union (AU) on the long-running dispute over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

He said Egypt wanted to brief the European ambassadors on the updates of the negotiations to inform the international society of the latest developments in the "vital" file, a statement by the Egyptian foreign ministry read.

"It is also the result of the strategic relations between the European Union and the three negotiating parties," the statement added.

Negotiations to reach a deal over the filling and operation of the nearly $5 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) were launched last month after the talks between the three countries had reached deadlock last year, and so did negotiations sponsored by the US and World Bank in February.

The downstream countries are seeking a legally binding deal on the filling and operation of the dam.

The talks stumbled earlier this month for one week after Addis Ababa's proposal that contained guidelines for filling the GERD.

Egypt said the draft proposal put forward by Ethiopia lacked the guidelines for operating the dam, any elements indicating a binding deal, or a legal mechanism to settle disputes.

Sudan threatened earlier this month to withdraw from the talks if Ethiopia insisted on linking an agreement on the dam’s filling to a deal on sharing the waters of the Blue Nile.

The mega-dam, built 15 kilometres from the Ethiopian border with Sudan, has been a source of contention between the three countries.

Cairo fears the project will significantly cut its crucial water supplies from the River Nile, while Sudan fears it could endanger the safety of its own dams.

Ethiopia says the massive project, which it hopes will make it Africa’s largest power exporter, is key to its development efforts.

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