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Sudan invites Egypt, Ethiopia to tripartite talks to discuss 'possible options' on reviving GERD negotiations

Article 10 stipulates that if parties involved do not succeed in solving the dispute through talks or negotiations, they can ask for mediation or refer the matter to their heads of states or prime ministers

Ahram Online , Wednesday 14 Apr 2021
Abdalla Hamdok
FILE PHOTO: Sudan Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok. Reuters

Sudan invited on Tuesday Egypt and Ethiopia to tripartite talks to discuss possible options over reviving negotiations on the disputed Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) after a collapse of AU-led talks earlier this month.

Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok said in a letter to Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed that negotiations between the three countries have reached a deadlock at a time where the construction of the dam has reached an advanced stage.

This makes reaching an agreement before the operation of the dam an urgent necessity, the Sudanese PM said.

“It’s unfortunate that ten years of negotiations have lapsed without a deal. Despite notable progress made during the round of negotiations mediated by the United States and the World Bank, several points of contention persisted without a solution,” he added.

He said that the invitation for a meeting between the premiers of the three countries in the next ten days comes under the tenth article of the 2015 Declaration of Principles over the dam.

Article 10 stipulates that if parties involved do not succeed in solving the dispute through talks or negotiations, they can ask for mediation or refer the matter to their heads of states or prime ministers.

The invitation comes as Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan continue to push with efforts to brief regional and international counterparts on stances and developments on the latest deadlock in negotiations earlier this month.

Earlier on Tuesday, Ethiopia's water and foreign ministers briefed African ambassadors on the GERD negotiations, stressing the necessity of an African-led solution to reach “a win-win outcome”.

They emphasised that the “most practical and workable way for a successful negotiation is first to agree on the first filling and related operations and then to proceed to a comprehensive agreement on the utilisation of the water of the Nile” in line with the communique issued by the African Union bureau of the assembly in July 2020.

They expressed what they described as “disappointment on attempts of Egypt and Sudan who claim the GERD as a threat to Arab water security while all riparian countries are Africans including Egypt and Sudan”.

Egypt said on Tuesday that it has sent letters to the UN Secretary general, UN security council chief and the president of the UN general assembly explaining all the latest developments and stages of negotiations.

Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry stressed to the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres the importance of the role of the UN and its agencies in contributing to resuming negotiations and reaching the required deal over the dam as well as offering support to the AU in this regard.

The latest tug of war in diplomacy comes days after Egypt and Sudan rejected on Saturday a proposal by Ethiopia for data exchange on its disputed dam, ahead of its planned second filling in July.

Cairo and Khartoum’s rejection of the offer by Addis Ababa comes as tensions continue to linger after the latest round of Kinshasa talks, which was held between the three countries in an attempt to re-launch deadlocked negotiations over the dam and had failed to reach an agreement.

Ethiopia’s rejection of several proposals by Egypt and Sudan on the negotiations' mechanism has led to a collapse of meetings and a failure to reach an agreement over relaunching the talks.

Addis Ababa rejected a Sudanese proposal — backed by Egypt — to form an international quartet mediation, made up of the African Union (AU), the United Nations (UN), the European Union (EU) and the US.

Ethiopia plans to move forward with the second filling of the dam — set to take place in July — despite the objections of Egypt and Sudan over the execution of such a move in the absence of a legally binding deal.

The second filling aims at collecting around 18.4 bcm of Blue Nile water, up from the 4.9 bcm secured during the first filling last year.

Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi called on Ethiopia last week not to compromise Cairo’s share of Nile water, saying “all options are possible,” while stressing that “cooperation is better than fighting.”

His warning on GERD came nearly a week after he waved “inconceivable instability in the region that no one could imagine,” stressing that his message is “not a threat.” 

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