FILE: Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry- press photo
CAIRO – 3 November 2019: Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry headed on Sunday to Washington to attend the negotiations on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on November 6 between Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia in the presence of a World Bank representative, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement.
It is expected that Shoukry will conduct consultations with several US officials on enhancing the bilateral relations between Egypt and the United States, and on the regional and international issues of mutual concern, the statement added.
Foreign Minister Shoukry said on Nov. 1 that Egypt welcomes the US mediation in the tripartite negotiations between Egypt and the upstream countries [Ethiopia and Sudan], adding that Egypt has welcomed the US invitation to hold a meeting in Washington to resolve the differences.
“This invitation comes in accordance with Article No. 10 of the Declaration of Principles, which stipulates that if the three countries could not find a solution to these differences, they have to ask for mediation,” Shoukry said.
In a press conference with his German counterpart Heiko Maas in Cairo, Shoukry announced that the US Administration invited the countries to meet in Washington on November 6, 2019.
Egypt and Ethiopia are at loggerheads over the $4-billion dam; Cairo voiced concern over its water share after Ethiopia started building the dam on the Blue Nile in May 2011. A series of tripartite talks between the two countries along with Sudan began in 2014. One year later, the three countries signed the Declaration of Principles, per which the downstream countries [Egypt and Sudan] should not be negatively affected by the construction of the dam. However, Cairo has recently blamed Addis Ababa for hindering a final agreement concerning a technical problem.
“Despite Egypt's sincere intentions to reach an agreement on the rules of filling the dam and its operation, these efforts have not resulted in the expected agreement,” the minister added.
Shoukry briefed the parliament members on the water challenges Egypt faces as the per capita share of water has recently declined to 570 m3 per year. It is expected that the per capita share could decline to 500 cubic meters by 2020 to go under the water poverty line by 50 percent, 1,000 m3 below the international line. Consequently, the state has adopted policies to rationalize water consumption.
Arab Parliament Speaker Meshaal bin Fahad al-Sulami announced the Parliament’s solidarity with Egypt’s to protect its water share, calling upon Ethiopia to reach a “fair deal” that bears into account all countries’ interests, the state-owned news agency reported.
President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi voiced his aspiration to reach an agreement that bears the common interests of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia into account. On October 5, 2019, the Egyptian Presidency announced that it looks forward to a positive role played by the US in this regard, especially in light of the negotiation deadlock.
During his visit to the Russian city of Sochi to attend the Russia-Africa Forum on October 24, 2019, President Sisi held a meeting with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed; they agreed upon resuming the work of the technical commission. Ahmed expressed appreciation of the Egyptian efforts.
Additional reporting by Samar Samir