A fair, sustainable deal is the only solution to GERD dispute: Egypt's irrigation minister

Ahram Online , Monday 14 Sep 2020

Egyptian irrigation minister Mohamed Abdel Aty during a meeting with a delegation of parties youth coordination on Monday 14 September, 2020 (Photo courtesy of the Egyptian Irrigation Ministry official Facebook page)

Egypt’s irrigation minister Mohamed Abdel-Ati said the only solution to the long-running dispute between Cairo, Addis Ababa, and Khartoum over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) is reaching a fair and sustainable agreement that secures the interest of the three countries.

Abdel-Ati received on Monday a delegation of coordination of youth parties as part of the ministry's efforts to raise public awareness about national security issues.

He informed the delegation about the history of GERD negotiations, according to a statement by the ministry.

The minister stressed that Egypt has been supporting all African countries.

"There is no way out but reaching a fair and sustainable agreement (on GERD) that leads to regional integration and guarantees the joint interests of the three countries," the minister was quoted as saying during the meeting.

He expressed his hope to reach a binding deal on the rules of filling and operating the dam that ensures the interests of Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan.

Egypt will never relinquish its riparian rights under any circumstances, the statement added.

The recent round of talks mediated by the African Union (AU) came to a close in late August without reaching consensus on the legal and technical points of contention.

Egypt and Sudan have been in talks with Ethiopia for years now to reach a legally binding agreement on the filling and operation of the massive hydropower dam Addis Ababa is building on the Blue Nile.

Tripartite negotiations reached deadlock last year as did talks sponsored by the US and World Bank in February.

There was a hiatus between 27 July and 3 August after Ethiopia had announced it had completed the first phase of filling the GERD reservoir.

The talks were further halted when Sudan called for a suspension of meetings to allow for consultations after Addis Ababa had proposed a package of non-binding guidelines for the filling and operation of the mega-dam.

Cairo fears the $4.8 billion hydropower project, built 15 kilometres from the Ethiopian border with Sudan, 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 project is key to its development and hopes to become Africa’s biggest electricity exporter.

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