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'Egypt will not be complacent about its water security': Cairo's ambassador to Washington

Zahran called on the US to support the current mediation attempt led by the AU in order to reach a legally binding agreement on GERD between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia to protect security and the stability in the region

Zeinab El-Gundy , Wednesday 5 May 2021
Motaz Zahran
File Photo: Egypt's Ambassador to the United States Motaz Zahran.
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Egypt's Ambassador to the United States Motaz Zahran said Tuesday that Egypt will not in any way be complacent about its water security, calling on the United States to support the current mediation attempt led by the African Union (AU) in order to reach a legally binding agreement concerning the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

In a lecture at the National War College, Zahran warned of unilateral actions in the filling and operation of the GERD, which can aggravate water poverty in Egypt and the negative impacts of climate change in a way that cannot be contained in addition to its social and economic damage.

The lecture focused on the strategic relations between Egypt and the United States as well as the recent regional challenges.

He accused Ethiopia's successive administrations of deliberately adopting policies to “fuel the Ethiopian public opinion concerning the Nile water” and using it in a way to contain the long-time internal tensions in Ethiopia instead of trying to reach an intermediate solution that secures the common interests of the region’s peoples.

Zahran added in his speech that a solution was reached in Washington in February 2020 after US sponsored talks, which would have allowed Ethiopia to generate electricity from GERD and to implement future projects under the umbrella of the International Law.

"However, the Ethiopian side did not attend the last meeting to sign the agreement as it preferred unilateral actions without constraints to the International law," he said.

Zahran accused Ethiopia of adopting an approach with its neighbors that has caused Lake Turkana in Kenya to be on the verge of extinction according to UNESCO and severe damage to the locals of the Juba and Shabelle rivers in Somalia.

Egypt cannot allow the repetition of such “Ethiopian unilateral practices” in the Nile basin too, he stressed.

The ambassador called on the US to support the current mediation attempt led by the AU in order to reach a legally binding agreement on GERD between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia to protect security and the stability in the region.

US Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman was to start an official tour on Tuesday that takes him to Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan and Eritrea, the US Department of State said Monday.

Tensions escalated in the recent weeks after the latest round of talks in Kinshasa in April failed to produce an agreement to re-launch stalled negotiations.

Ethiopia’s rejection of several proposals by Egypt and Sudan on a negotiation mechanism, which include international quartet mediation, led to the collapse of the Kinshasa talks.

The three countries have resorted to diplomacy in recent weeks, briefing regional and international counterparts on their stances and developments on the negotiations.

The three countries have sent letters to the UN Security Council (UNSC) to clarify their positions on the dam issue, and traded accusations over who is responsible for the collapse of the talks.

Egypt has sent its foreign minister on a six-nation tour in Africa to clarify the country’s stance on the GERD dispute.

Addis Ababa plans to move ahead with the second filling of the dam despite the objections by Egypt and Sudan amid the absence of a legally binding deal.

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