Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry headed on Sunday evening to the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, to start an African tour and brief leaders of African states on recent updates on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) issue.
The Egyptian top diplomat’s tour includes Comoros, South African, Senegal, and Tunisia, the foreign ministry’s spokesman, Ahmed Hafez, said in a statement. Shoukry will also visit the Democratic Republic of Congo, the current chair of the African Union.
Shoukry is carrying messages from Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi to the leaders of these countries on GERD updates and the Egyptian stance in this regard.
Ethiopia plans to move ahead with the second filling of the dam in July despite the objections of Egypt and Sudan over the move in the absence of a legally binding deal.
Rounds of African Union-sponsored negotiations to reach an agreement have failed, including the latest round in the Congolese capital of Kinshasa earlier in April. The talks, held under the auspices of the AU, were dubbed by Egypt as the “last chance.”
“This tour stems from Egyptian keenness to brief countries of the African continent on the reality of the negotiations situation in terms of the Renaissance Dam issue,” Hafez said.
The tour also comes as Egypt is keen “to back the path of reaching a legally binding agreement on the filling and operation of the dam in a way that takes into consideration the interests of the three countries,” Hafez noted.
The statement added that this Egyptian endeavor seeks to reach an agreement “before the start of the second filling process [of the GERD] and before any unilateral measure is taken”.
Hafez said the tour also seeks to “reiterate the Egyptian stance calling for launching a serious and effective negotiation process that leads to reaching the desired agreement.”
Besides the African Union, Egypt and Sudan have called for involving extra-regional mediators — the United States, the United Nations, and the European Union — in the GERD talks. Ethiopia has, to date, rejected this step.
Egypt and Sudan earlier in April sent letters to the UN Security Council calling for international engagement in the talks to help the Egyptian-Sudanese endeavor to reach a binding deal on the GERD.