Water Resources Ministers of Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia to resume talks Wednesday



Tue, 07 Jan 2020 - 09:46 GMT


Tue, 07 Jan 2020 - 09:46 GMT

The first round of the second meeting of the water and irrigation ministries of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia on the mechanism of operation and filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) held on Dec. 2 - Press Photo

The first round of the second meeting of the water and irrigation ministries of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia on the mechanism of operation and filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) held on Dec. 2 - Press Photo

CAIRO - 7 January 2020: Addis Ababa will host the fourth meeting of the Egyptian, Sudanese and Ethiopian water resources and irrigation ministers and technical delegates Wednesday to resume talks on the operation and filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

The meeting comes in light of the results of the Washington-hosted meeting that involved the foreign ministers of the three states. The meeting was held on November 6, with the participation of the president of the World Bank.

This also came at the conclusion of their 3rd round of talks over the dam which is under-construction on Ethiopia's Blue Nile, a main tributary of the River Nile which provides more than 90 percent of Egypt’s fresh water.

This meeting is the fourth and final round of talks in the GERD negotiations.

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.

The Ethiopian minister pointed out that the next meeting will be held in Khratoum, Sudan at the end of December.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.



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