GERD 9-party meeting in Cairo postponed: sources

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Mon, 18 Jun 2018 - 04:16 GMT

Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam seen under construction - Reuters

Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam seen under construction - Reuters

CAIRO – 18 June 2018: Sources revealed that the nine-way meeting concerning the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) which was set to be held on June 18-19 in Cairo was postponed due to a delay in some official procedures.

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid told Egypt Today that the meeting's new date has not been set yet.

The meeting is set to be attended by ministers of foreign affairs and irrigation and heads of intelligence agencies in Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia.

Sources told the state-owned Akhbar Al-Youm newspaper that the three states have sent their inquiries to the consultancy office that is concerned with technical studies on the controversial dam. However, the office has not yet sent its modified introductory report on the dam.

The consultant should have responded to the inquires submitted over the introductory report within three weeks and one week before Cairo’s nine-party meeting.

In their meeting last May, Nile Basin countries’ negotiators concluded their nine-party meeting in Adis Ababa over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) with an agreement to meet again in Cairo in June following 15 hours of talks.

The postponed meeting aims to work out solutions to pending problems facing the technical committee and consequently special studies on determining the negative impact of the dam's construction on the downstream countries.

Addressing media after the Adis Ababa meeting, Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said that negotiations between the relevant contingents of the Nile Basin countries ended with having all participants agree to commit to the nine-party meeting’s outcomes that were outlined in a specific agreement signed by all parties.

The participants agreed on scheduling a regular tripartite meeting to be held between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan every six months on a rotational basis to enhance mutual cooperation between the three brotherly countries in a way that serves their interests and fulfills the aspirations of their peoples.

They also agreed on establishing a Tripartite Infrastructure Fund to move forward with joint infrastructure development projects, as well as having the Tripartite National Committee (TNC) of the three countries to deliver its concerns and remarks to the French consulting firm BRLi over its introductory technical report that was not mutually agreed upon.

The tripartite meeting held in Khartoum on April 6, ended with a deadlock when Shoukry announced that no resolution was reached, as Ethiopian officials insisted that the dam will not harm any of the Nile’s downstream countries, namely Egypt and Sudan.

dam
Construction workers are seen in a section of Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam, March 31, 2015 - Reuters

Egypt fears a likely negative impact on its annual share of Nile water, the country’s main source of water. Despite the long discussions, the matter remains in a stalemate.

Ethiopia has witnessed a dire turmoil that led to the resignation of former Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn on February 15.

Ethiopia started to build GERD in 2011 without consulting Egypt, and the move led to a long diplomatic spat between both states. The African Horn state is in desperate need of the dam, as it suffers from staggering daily power outages.

Technical officials in the three countries opted to hire two French consultancy companies – BRL and Artelia – in September 2016. However, the negotiations were brought to a halt in November 2017 as Ethiopia and Sudan objected to the companies’ preliminary report on the environmental impact of GERD.

In December 2017, Egypt demanded the intervention of the World Bank in the matter, a move that was rejected by Ethiopia.

Ethiopia seeks to start filling GERD’s reservoir during the upcoming Nile flood season in July.

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