Sudan officially invites UN, US, EU, AU to mediate deadlocked talks over disputed Ethiopian dam: Report

Amr Kandil , Monday 15 Mar 2021

Egypt has strongly endorsed the recent Sudanese proposal for the formation of a quartet, however, Ethiopia rejected the proposal, saying it is ready to talk only under the AU

Abdalla Hamdok
Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly (not present) and his Sudanese counterpart Abdalla Hamdok give a joint press conference after meeting in the Egyptian capital Cairo, on March 11, 2021. AP

Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok on Monday officially invited the United Nations, the United States, the European Union, and the African Union (AU) to mediate in the stalled talks between Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia over the disputed Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), informed Sudanese sources told Sky News Arabia.

Sudan has recently proposed the formation of an international quartet to help the three countries reach a legally binding agreement on the filling and operation of the Ethiopian dam.

Last year, several rounds of AU-sponsored talks, under the chairmanship of South Africa, failed to break the deadlock among the three countries, as Addis Ababa refused to sign any legally binding agreement.

Egypt has issued an official statement endorsing the recent Sudanese proposal for the formation of a quartet.

However, Ethiopia rejected the proposal, informing the DR of Congo, which is the current chair of the AU, that it would only accept talks under the African body.

Egypt has maintained that the speed of the filling of the GERD threatens its share of the Nile’s water.

Sudan, meanwhile, says the GERD threatens its dams on the Nile and that the second filling of the dam jeopardises the lives of 20 million of its citizens.

Hamdok sent messages of invitation to join the quartet to United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, European Union’s Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell, as well as President Felix Tshisekedi of the DR Congo, who is the current chair of the AU.

Hamdok has expressed Sudan's desire for the international mediation of the quartet to be limited to the controversial points currently in dispute among the three concerned countries.

These points include the necessity of reaching a legally binding agreement, exchange information, and set mechanisms to resolve the disputes and technical issues related to drought periods.

Meanwhile, Sudan reiterated its rejection of any Ethiopian attempts to introduce a review of historic water sharing agreements between downstream and upstream countries in any GERD talks.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and Sudanese officials have agreed during a recent visit by the Egyptian president to Khartoum on the need in the current critical period for utmost coordination between Egypt and Sudan in the GERD file, and stressed their joint rejection of any unilateral actions taken by Ethiopia in the dam dispute.

In recent remarks to Al-Shorouk private newspaper, Sudan’s Minister of Irrigation Yasser Abbas said his country’s proposal for a quartet to mediate the trilateral talks came as a result of the ineffectiveness of the former approach to negotiations in not allowing experts to help Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia reach common ground.

Abbas added that Sudan's quartet proposal seeks to convert observers in GERD talks into mediators, especially since the parties that are invited to join the quartet are alrteady familiar with the details of previous negotiations.

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