From left, Egyptian Irrigation Minister Mohamed Abdel-Ati, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, Sudanese Foreign Minister Mariam Al-Sadiq Al-Mahdi and Sudanese Irrigation Minister Yasser Abbas. Photo courtest of Egyptian foreign ministry twitter account
Egypt and Sudan in a joint statement on Wednesday urged concerted international efforts to help reach a settlement to the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam dispute with Ethiopia.
The remarks came in a joint statement after a meeting in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, between Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and Irrigation Minister Mohamed Abdel-Ati with their respective Sudanese counterparts, Mariam Al-Saddiq Al-Mahdi and Yasser Abbas.
The Egyptian and Sudanese sides called for a settlement to the GERD dispute in a way that takes into consideration the interests of the three countries, the statement read.
Egypt and Sudan have been negotiating for almost a decade now with Ethiopia to reach a legally binding and comprehensive deal on the GERD’s construction, which Addis Ababa started on the Blue Nile in 2011.
Meanwhile, Ethiopia intends to commence its second filling of the GERD on 22 July with or without forging a deal, a unilateral move that has been rejected by both downstream countries.
The African Union-sponsored talks among the three countries have failed reach a deal.
In their joint statement, Egypt and Sudan also called on the international community to recognise the dangers connected to the continuation of the Ethiopian policy, which is based on forcing fait accompli on the downstream countries.
The statement said Ethiopia continues to follow the approach of imposing its unilateral will while ignoring the Egyptian and Sudanese interests, which is embodied in its declared determination to continue filling the Renaissance Dam during the upcoming flood season.
Egypt and Sudan, according to the statement, have agreed on the necessity of moving to protect regional and continental security, peace and stability in this regard.
The ministers agreed during the meeting to coordinate the efforts of the two countries on the regional, continental and international levels to push Ethiopia to negotiate with seriousness, good faith and true political will.
The negotiations should seek to reach a comprehensive, fair and legally binding agreement on filling and operation of the dam, the statement reiterated, “after the negotiations sponsored by the AU came to a dead end due to Ethiopia’s intransigence.”
The ministers expressed deep concern about the probable impacts and dangers on the Egyptian and Sudanese rights and water interests, in the case of the unilateral filling and operation of the GERD without a legally-binding deal.
Technical and legal experts from both countries attended the Wednesday meeting, the statement said, noting that negotiations took place in a “friendly and positive atmosphere characterised by mutual understanding.”
The ministers during the meeting also affirmed their keenness to enhance and deepen the longstanding relations between Egypt and Sudan.
According to the Egyptian Foreign Ministry, Egyptian ministers Shoukry and Abdel-Ati met with Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and Abdel-Fattah Al-Burhan, the head of Sudan’s transitional sovereign council as they arrived to Khartoum on Wednesday.