Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry (C) during a meeting with Tunisia’s permanent representative to the United Nations Tarek Ladeb (R) in New York on Monday, 8 July 2021 ahead of the UNSC session on the GERD dispute (photo: the Egyptian foreign ministry)
Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry has spoken with a number of foreign officials about the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) issue during his visit to New York, where is the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) will hold a session on the GERD on Thursday.
In a phone call with Vietnamese Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son, Shoukry discussed Egypt's stance on the GERD issue and the importance of reaching a legally binding agreement on the rules for filling and operation.
Shoukry expressed his aspiration that Vietnam would understand Egypt's concerns about the dam, being an upstream country itself, foreign ministry spokesman Ahmed Hafez said in a statement.
Shoukry also met with Tunisia’s permanent representative to the United Nations Tarek Ladeb.
Both Tunisia and Vietnam are two out of the 10 elected and non-permanent members of the Security Council.
Minister Shoukry also met with representatives from UNSC members Niger and Kenya, as well as with members of the Arab committee tasked with following up on developments in the GERD issue and coordinating with the UNSC in this respect. The committee members are Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Morocco, in addition to the Arab League.
The UNSC is set to meet on Thursday upon the request of Egypt and Sudan, who raised the matter with the 15-member body after the African Union-sponsored tripartite negotiations with Ethiopia reached a deadlock in April.
In preparation for the coming session, Shoukry travelled on Sunday morning to the United States with a tight schedule of meetings with a number of his counterparts, permanent delegates of the UNSC's member states, and UN officials.
Shoukry and his Sudanese counterpart Mariam Al-Sadiq met on Monday in New York to coordinate before the session.
The decision to resort to the UNSC was made by Egypt and Sudan as there seems to be no sign that an agreement is on the horizon, with Addis Ababa still adamant on proceeding with the second filing unilaterally.
Up to 13.5 billion cubic metres of water are expected to be collected by the dam’s reservoir during the flood season, which started in July.
Egypt, which depends on the Nile for over 95 percent of its fresh water, fears the dam will significantly affect its water share if a legally binding deal is not reached.
Sudan fears the unilateral filling of the reservoir will threaten the lives of millions of its people living downstream of the dam, jeopardise the operational safety of its own dams, and consequently risk Sudan's national security.
Ethiopia, which hopes the controversial multi-billion-dollar hydropower dam will support its economic development goals, seeks to sign non-binding guidelines on the dam's filling and operation rules, as opposed to both downstream countries, who seek a binding deal.