Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and Congolese President Félix Antoine Tshisekedi (Photo courtesy of the Egyptian Presidency)
Egypt would not accept a compromise of its water security over ongoing GERD dispute, President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi told Democratic Republic of Congo's President Felix Tshisekedi amid ongoing efforts to revive negotiations on the dam with Sudan and Ethiopia.
According to an official statement by the Egyptian Presidency, El-Sisi stressed - during a meeting in Cairo with Tshisekedi - the necessity of a legally binding deal that preserves Cairo’s water rights and averts the region from further tensions and instability.
The meeting, which was attended by Irrigation Minister Mohamed Abdel-Aty and Intelligence Chief Abbas Kamel, focused mainly on the dam dispute, the statement said.
El-Sisi affirmed his appreciation of the efforts by his Congolese counterpart, who is the current head of the African Union (AU), and their confidence in dealing with the issue.
He voiced Egypt’s keenness on backing the efforts under a negotiation mechanism sponsored by the DRC with the participation of international partners to reach a legally binding deal.
Congo’s Tshisekedi stressed keenness on intensifying coordination in this “critical issue” to help all parties achieve progress in related trilateral talks, praising vast efforts by Cairo to reach a well-balanced and fair agreement on the dam that takes into account the interest of the three countries.
Tshisekedi arrived to Cairo from Sudan after talks with Sudanese officials on the decade-long dam crisis. The talks were also about bilateral ties and regional developments of common interests.
According to Sudanese state run news agency SUNA, General Abdel-Fattah Al-Burhan, Head of Sudan's ruling sovereign council, held talks with Tshisekedi that focused “mainly on the dam dispute between the upstream and downstream countries”.
Tshisekedi also met with Sudanese Foreign Minister Mariam Al-Sadiq Al-Mahdi, who said that the Congolese president proposed an initiative on the dam as the current chair of the AU.
The initiative is “under review” by competent bodies, Al-Mahdi said, without providing further details on the Congolese initiative.
The Congolese president's visit comes amid a foreign tour by US envoy for the Horn of Africa, Jeffrey Feltman for talks on the dam dispute with Egyptian and Sudanese officials.
Tensions have mounted in the past weeks after the latest trilateral round of talks in Kinshasa earlier in April failed to produce an agreement to re-launch the deadlocked negotiations.
Ethiopia’s rejection of several proposals by Egypt and Sudan on the negotiation mechanism, which includes an international quartet mediation, has led to the collapse of the Kinshasa talks.
The three countries have resorted to diplomacy in the past weeks, briefing regional and international counterparts on their stances and developments on the latest deadlock in negotiations.
The efforts come as Ethiopia remains unwavering on forging ahead 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 to collect around 18.4 bcm of Blue Nile water, up from the 4.9 bcm secured during the first filling last year.