Egypt insists that any accord over the disputed Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) must preserve its water rights as well as serve the interest of all parties, Irrigation and Water Resources Minister Mohamed Abdel-Aty told Congolese official Alphonse Ntumba, according to an official statement.
In a meeting in Cairo with Ntumba, the coordinator of the panel concerned with the DRC's presidency of the AU, Abdel-Aty stressed Egypt’s keenness on reaching a fair and binding legal agreement that takes into account the interests of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia.
The two officials discussed Sudan’s proposal, which Cairo backs, to form an international quartet committee to mediate the stalled negotiations on the dam.
Abdel-Aty stressed that Egypt supports its African counterparts in Nile Basin countries in providing drinking water for its citizens and implementing rainwater harvesting and other projects.
Their meeting comes hours after Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry told the Congolese official that Cairo backs Khartoum’s proposal on forming the quartet committee comprising of the US, the EU, the UN and the AU to mediate the GERD negotiations.
The mediation talks will be sponsored by Félix Tshisekedi, the president of the DRC, the current head of the AU.
Shoukry expressed hope that the proposed methodology would push the negotiations forward and assist the three countries in reaching the desired agreement as soon as possible.
Since last year, the AU has been mediating the talks between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia over the decade-long dispute caused by the GERD.
The last round of AU negotiations, mediated by South Africa, the former president of the AU, stalled in January due to Khartoum's withdrawal from the latest meetings in objection to the methodology upon which the talks had been held.
Sudan called for granting a bigger role to the experts involved in the talks instead of holding direct discussions between the three nations. Ethiopia, as well as Egypt, rejected Sudan's demand.
The efforts to resolve the crisis come amid worries over controversial plans by Addis Ababa to complete the second filling in July without an accord with Cairo and Khartoum.
Egypt fears the project will significantly cut its crucial water supplies from the River Nile, while Sudan has concerns over how the reservoir will be managed.
Ethiopia says the massive project, which it hopes will make it Africa’s largest power exporter, is key to its development efforts.