President Abdel Fattah El Sisi (R) and US President-elect Joe Biden (L)- press photo
CAIRO – 24 May 2021: Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi received a phone call from US President Joe Biden on Monday evening, discussing the latest development of the controversial Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on Monday, said Egyptian Spokesperson Bassam Radi in a statement.
“Both presidents agreed to intensify diplomatic efforts in the coming period to reach an agreement that preserves water and development rights for all parties,” Radi said.
US President affirmed that his country will make efforts to ensure water security for Egypt.
The dispute among Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia dates back to May 2011 when Ethiopia started building the dam; Egypt voiced concern over its water share [55.5 billion cubic meters].
Three years later, a series of tripartite talks between the two countries along with Sudan began to reach an agreement, while Ethiopia continued the dam construction.
In 2015, the three countries signed the Declaration of Principles, per which the downstream countries should not be negatively affected by the construction of the dam.
In October 2019, Egypt blamed Addis Ababa for hindering a final agreement concerning a technical problem, calling for activating Article No. 10 of the Declaration of Principles, which stipulates that if the three countries could not find a solution to these disputes, they have to ask for mediation.
Washington had brokered tripartite negotiations among the three countries, in the presence of the President of the World Bank (WB) starting from November 6, 2019, until February 27 and 28, 2020.
During these rounds of talks, tangible outcomes were agreed on among the three parties concerning the rules and mechanism of operating the dam and the filling process of the reservoir during the drought and prolonged drought; however, an agreement was not sealed.
Constructions in the Grand Renaissance Dam started on April 2, 2011, at a cost of $4.8 billion. It was built by the Italian construction and engineering company Salini Impergilo. The Italian company is headquartered in Milan. The dam is located on the Blue Nile with a capacity of 74 billion cubic meters and is expected to generate up to 6,000 megawatts of power.
The first filling was carried out in 2020 with 4.9 billion cubic meters. Currently, Ethiopia intends to do the second filling in July with at least 13.5 billion cubic meters.
Other issues discussed
President Sisi and Joe Biden also tackled a number of hot topics on the international and regional arenas, including the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and the latest development regarding the Libyan file, according to the Egyptian Presidency’s statement.
As for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, both leaders discussed the ways of reviving the peace process in the wake of recent developments, in addition to the US support for stabilizing the Egyptian-mediated ceasefire that was reached between the Palestinian and Israeli parties, and for Gaza reconstruction.
Joe Biden affirmed his country’s coordination with all international partners to support the Palestinian Authority and for the reconstruction, expressing his appreciated to President Sisi and the Egyptian concerned bodies for reaching the ceasefire, the statement added.
The US president expressed that he is looking forward continuous coordination and cooperation in this regard.
Both leaders also tackled the bilateral relations, the statement said, adding that President Biden said that his country is looking forward to enhance the bilateral relations in all fields, particularly in light of Egypt’s pivotal role regionally and internationally.