Sisi, Burhan urge international efforts towards binding deal on GERD

Amr Kandil , Saturday 6 Mar 2021

El-Sisi and Al-Burhan reiterated the need to support the Sudanese proposal to form a quartet committee composed of the United Nations, African Union, European Union, and United States to mediate in the GERD issue

El-Sisi and Al-Burhan
Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi (L) meets with head of the Sudanese Transitional Sovereignty Council Abdel-Fattah Al-Burhan in Khartoum, 6 March 2021 (photo courtesy of the Presidency)

Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and head of the Sudanese Transitional Sovereignty Council Abdel-Fattah Al-Burhan called on Saturday for enhancing bilateral, regional, and international efforts to reach a binding legal deal on the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

El-Sisi travelled to Khartoum today on his first visit to Sudan following the formation of the Sudanese Transitional Sovereignty Council in August 2019.

During their meeting, El-Sisi and Al-Burhan reiterated the need to support the Sudanese proposal to form a quartet committee composed of the United Nations, African Union, European Union, and United States to mediate between Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia over the filling and operation of the GERD, Presidential Spokesman Bassam Rady said in a statement.

El-Sisi and Al-Burhan affirmed the need to reach a comprehensive, integrated, binding legal agreement on GERD, which would secure the interests of the three countries and limit the harms and impact of the dam on Egypt and Sudan.

Rounds of talks among the three concerned countries in the GERD issue have ended in deadlock, with Sudan dismissing the way talks are currently held as “unproductive” and with Egypt blaming the stalemate on Ethiopia’s intransigence.

Ethiopia frequently affirmed that it would implement the second phase of filling the massive dam under any circumstances, although the parties have not yet reached a binding legal agreement and despite Sudan’s warning of “disastrous” implications that may occur without having a deal.

During the meeting, El-Sisi and Al-Burhan “stressed their rejection of any unilateral actions that seek to impose the status quo and monopolise the resources of the Blue Nile,” the presidential statement read.

Border tensions

El-Sisi and Al-Burhan also discussed developments on the Sudanese-Ethiopian borders and Sudan’s endeavour to impose the state’s sovereignty on its eastern borders with Ethiopia.

The Sudanese-Ethiopian borders have been hit by rising tensions since November, after the Sudanese army had announced that Ethiopian militia ambushed Sudanese soldiers at the border.

The presidential statement said the recent Sudanese efforts came “within the framework of Sudan’s respect to international agreements establishing borders and its constant endeavour to stress its state sovereignty in a peaceful way and without resorting to violence.”

Terror list

Al-Burhan said he appreciates Egypt’s efforts to support Sudan during its times of crises and to contribute to remove Sudan from the US list of state sponsors of terrorism.

The US took the decision to remove Khartoum from its terror list in December 2020, 27 years after it was first listed.

The US announcement came after the Sudanese government agreed to pay compensation to the victims of terrorist attacks and separately agreed to sign a normalisation agreement with Israel last year.

Al-Burhan said during the meeting that Egypt’s positions reflect the historic and strategic relations between the two countries. He affirmed that Sudan relies on the continuity of the Egyptian stances supporting Sudan in regional and international forums, the spokesman added.

Bilateral ties, cooperation

Al-Burhan confirmed Sudan’s keenness to activate joint projects to bolster bilateral cooperation in various fields, including in the political, economic, security, and military arenas.

El-Sisi hailed the recently boosted bilateral relationship between the two countries, saying it reflects a political will to enhance these ties in various strategic fields of mutual concern.

The Egyptian president voiced Egypt’s support for Sudan in all fields and his willingness to enhance the strategic partnership between the two countries on the basis of mutual respect and joint cooperation.

The president also affirmed Egypt’s support of various efforts to enhance peace, stability, and development in Sudan during this critical stage of Sudan’s history, based on a firm belief that Sudan’s stability and security are integral to those of Egypt.

Issues of mutual concern

The spokesman said El-Sisi and Al-Burhan had a one-on-one meeting before calling in their delegations. During the meetings, they discussed a number of regional and international issues of mutual concern.

Rady said El-Sisi and Al-Burhan have showed consensus over developments in the Horn of Africa.

The two sides agreed on the need to intensify bilateral, periodic meetings between high-level officials from Egypt and Sudan to coordinate on the successive developments witnessed in the geographical surroundings of both countries.

Last week, Cairo and Khartoum signed a military cooperation agreement on the sidelines of the visit of Egypt's Army Chief of Staff Mohamed Farid to Sudan.

In November, Egypt and Sudan conducted Nile Eagles 1 Air Force drill for the first time, which took place in one of the Sudanese air bases and involved the Egyptian special forces Thunderbolt.

Today’s visit comes less than a week after the reception of Mariam Sadek Al-Mahdi, Sudan’s newly appointed minister of foreign affairs, in Cairo.

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