A file photo showing the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) (Photo: Reuters)
Egypt's Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly headed a meeting of the country's Higher Committee for Nile Water on Tuesday, two days ahead of a scheduled meeting between the foreign and irrigation ministers of Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia about the long-running dispute over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).
The Nile Water committee meeting discussed the latest developments concerning the disputed Ethiopian dam, which has been a source of concern for Egypt and Sudan since 2011, said a cabinet statement.
Tuesday's meeting was attended by Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and Irrigation Minister Mohamed Abdel-Ati, as well as representatives from the defence and irrigation ministries and the General Intelligence Service.
The meeting comes amid preparation for the 19 November convention that will bring together the three African countries’ ministers to discuss how to reach a legally-binding agreement on the rules of filling and operating the near-complete dam in line with resolutions of the mini-African summit held in July, according to the statement.
Thursday's six-member meeting will be held in response to a call from South Africa's foreign minister to discuss how to reach a mechanism to revive negotiations halted since August.
The last round of negotiations between Cairo, Khartoum, and Addis Ababa, mediated by the African Union (AU), came to an end in August as a result of disagreements on the rules for filling and operating the hydropower project that culminated in non-binding guidelines proposed by Ethiopia, which were rejected by Egypt and Sudan, both of whom seek a legally binding agreement.
In late October, South Africa, the current president of the AU, called for a week-long round of talks in a bid to resolve the standoff and resume negotiations, but it also saw "incompatibility" on the methodology for completing negotiations, according to separate statements by the three negotiating parties.
They also agreed to submit a report to South Africa covering their vision on ways to implement the outcomes of the two meetings of the AU bureau at the summit level, held on 26 June and 21 July.
According to a previous statement by the Egyptian irrigation ministry, it was decided, during meetings in June and July, that the three countries would reach a binding legal agreement on filling and operating the $4.8 billion dam.