FILE – Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry – Reuters
CAIRO - 7 November 2019: Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry on Wednesday said that the meetings in Washington with top representatives from Sudan and Ethiopia to discuss the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam yielded positive results.
Shoukry said that the outcome of these meetings would set a course for negotiations and a clear and specific timetable, the foreign ministry said in a statement.
The meetings came under the auspices of the United States and with the participation of the President of the World Bank.
It was decided that four urgent meetings for ministers of water resources of the three countries would be held, with the participation of representatives from the US and the World Bank, Shoukry said.The meetings will be concluded by reaching an agreement on filling and operating GERD within two months, by January 15, he added.
During this period, two meetings will be held in Washington at the invitation of US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to assess progress in negotiations, according to Shoukry.
Shoukry expressed President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi's deep appreciation for US President Donald Trump's sponsorship of these talks and his reception of the three ministers.
President Sisi also lauded the constructive and pivotal role played by President Trump and the US, which reflects the depth of the strategic relations between Egypt and the United States, saying that this would contribute to reaching an agreement on the filling and operation of GERD and promoting stability and development in the East Africa region.
Shoukry praised the Mnuchin's constructive role as he chaired the meeting with the ministers of the three countries.
During the intensive meetings held, Shoukry stressed that Egypt is seeking to reach a balanced agreement that will enable Ethiopia to achieve the purpose of generating electricity, without harming Egypt's water interests and rights.
Egypt and Ethiopia are at loggerheads over the $4-billion GERD; 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 and Addis Ababa have recently blamed each other for hindering a final agreement concerning a technical problem.
On Sunday November 3, Shoukry headed to Washington to participate in the trilateral meeting of the foreign ministers of Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia, upon the invitation of the U.S. Administration.
Shoukry in the US reviewed with Chair of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary Lindsey Graham Egypt’s efforts to reach an agreement on GERD to preserve the interests of all concerned countries.
"This (goal) has not been achieved so far because the Ethiopian side has not responded," Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Hafez said in a statement on Wednesday.
Later, on Wednesday, the foreign ministers of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan and their delegations met with Mnuchin and the president of the World Bank.
The ministers reaffirmed their joint commitment to reach a comprehensive, cooperative, adaptive, sustainable, and mutually beneficial agreement on the filling and operation of GERD and to establish a clear process for fulfilling that commitment in accordance with the 2015 Declaration of Principles.
The foreign ministers noted their agreement to hold four technical governmental meetings at the level of water ministers.
The ministers agreed that the World Bank and the US would support and attend the meetings as observers.
Trump tweeted, “Just had a meeting with top representatives from Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan to help solve their long running dispute on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, one of the largest in the world, currently being built.
“The meeting went well and discussions will continue during the day!”