Egypt rejects Ethiopia's "unjustified" absence from GERD talks

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Sat, 29 Feb 2020 - 03:14 GMT

Photo: U.S. State Department

Photo: U.S. State Department

CAIRO - 29 February 2020: Egypt has affirmed that its participation at the ministerial meetings regarding the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which took place in Washington on February 27-28, came to reach a final agreement on the rules for filling and operating the dam, and to implement the obligations contained in the Declaration of Principles Agreement signed between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia on March 23, 2015.

“Egypt's position during all the painstaking stages of negotiation over the past five years, which did not bear any positive results, maintained utter good faith and provided a sincere political will in reaching an agreement that meets the interests of the three countries,” a statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Saturday.

“Moreover, the constructive role played by the United States and the World Bank and their sponsorship of the intensive negotiations rounds that were conducted over the past four months contributed significantly to the finalization of the agreement, which included specific rules for filling and operating the Renaissance Dam, measures to address droughts and scarce years, a coordination mechanism, a binding dispute resolution mechanism, and addressing the safety of the Renaissance Dam.

“In light of what this agreement accomplishes in preserving Egypt's water interests and ensuring that no major harm is done to it, Egypt has signed the proposed agreement in confirmation of its seriousness in achieving its goals and objectives, and therefore, Egypt is looking forward that Sudan and Ethiopia will accept this fair agreement that achieves the common interests of the three countries,” the statement added.

The statement also expressed appreciation to the role of the U.S. administration and its keenness to find a common ground between the three countries.

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Photo: U.S. State Department


The ministry further deprecated Ethiopia’s unjustified absence from the meeting, especially during such a decisive state of negotiation.

“Egypt will continue to give this issue the greatest attention it deserves due to its national responsibility in defending the interests of the Egyptian people, their capabilities and their future by all means available,” the statement added.

Egypt, which relies on the Nile for 90% of its freshwater, has asked to slow the filling of the dam to avoid affecting its Nile water level or historic rights.

The United States has announced it will continue to work with Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan until they sign an accord on the hydropower dam, according to U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

The three countries had expected to sign an agreement in Washington this week on the filling and operation of the $4 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), but Ethiopia skipped the meeting and only Egypt has initialed the deal thus far.

In a statement released late Friday, Mnuchin said he held separate bilateral talks with key ministers from Egypt and Sudan over the past two days after Ethiopia asked for a delay in what was to be the final round of talks.

Mnuchin said he looked forward to Ethiopia concluding its internal consultations to allow a signing of the deal “at the earliest possible time”, and stressed that final testing and filling of the dam “should not take place without an agreement.”

“The United States reaffirms its commitment to remain engaged with the three countries until they sign the final agreement,” he said.

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