FILE- A general view shows construction activity on the Grand Renaissance dam in Guba Woreda, Benishangul Gumuz region in this March 16, 2014 file photo. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri/Files
CAIRO - 4 December 2019: The Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation on Tuesday denied issuing a joint statement by the ministers of water resources and irrigation of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia at the end of their two-day talks over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam(GERD).
According to a statement released by the ministry that the talks looked forward to the resumption of negotiations during a ministerial meeting to be held on December 9 in Washington, noting that it issued only one statement on the talks that concluded recently.
The ministers discussed the results of their first meeting held in Addis Ababa in November 15 -16, in a bid to reach an agreement on the rules of filling and operating the dam and its reservoir based on Cairo's desire to hammer out a fair and balanced deal for harmonizing the High Aswan Dam and the GERD, the statement added.
They agreed to continue their technical discussions and consultation over all sticky points left unresolved during the Addis Ababa meeting at the next meeting that will be held in Khratoum, Sudan at the end of December.
At the first round of the second meeting held on Dec. 2, Egyptian Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Mohamed Abdel Aty expressed his hopes to reach an agreement on the filling and operation of the GERD by January 15, 2020, ensuring a clear path towards a win-win situation, where all parties' interests are served.
The meeting was attended by his counterparts from Ethiopia, Sudan with the participation of a representative of the World Bank and a representative of the United States of America.
In Dec. 2, Ethiopian Irrigation and Energy Minister Selshy Bekely stated that the second meeting of the ministries concerned with water affairs succeeded in addressing the technical problems related to the operation of the Renaissance Dam in coordination with Egypt and Sudan.
“Ethiopia attaches great importance to these meetings in order to reach decisions on the Renaissance Dam that respect all agreements.Since September 2018, we have held five meetings on water and this dam,” Bekely added.
The minister noted that the observers played an important role and helped provide adviceand that the three countries focused on the technical problems.He also said that the river is very important for Egypt and Sudan and that Ethiopia has the right to use the resources of the river.
He explained that his country has made great progress in determining the duration of operation and construction of this dam, which will extend between 4 and 7 years.
For his part, Sudanese Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Yasser Abbas stressed,"Progress in this file does not mean to only defend our interests and the rights of our people, but also to seek new opportunities to enhance joint cooperation between our countries."
The Sudanese minister suggested two options to solve the problems related to the dam."I have two suggestions for these talks to be constructive; the first one is to continue the talks and build on what was done in Addis Ababa, and the second option is to focus on two or three issues such as long-term operation and how much water is flowing.This should facilitate solving a lot of issues to finally know when we will start filling this dam.”
Egypt and Ethiopia are at loggerheads over the $4-billion dam; Cairo voiced concern over its water share [55.5 billion cubic meters] 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 blamed Addis Ababa for hindering a final agreement concerning a technical problem, calling for activating the 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.
Later, the United States sent an invitation to the three countries to resume the talks. Meetings were held with foreign and water ministers of Egypt and Upper stream countries, in the presence of United States Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin and a representative from the World Bank.
President Donald Trump praised the meeting with the top representatives ofthe three countries, saying on his Twitter that it “went well and discussions will continue during the day!”
President Abdel Fatah al-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. The president said that this would contribute to reaching an agreement on the filling and operation of GERD and promoting stability and development in East Africa.
Additional Report with Samar Samir and MENA