Washington meetings on GERD: outcome, future steps
The meetings were held with United States Secretary of Treasure Steven Mnuchin, in the presence of representatives from the World Bank, as Shoukry headed on Sunday to the US capital, to attend the negotiations and break the GERD deadlock.
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.
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.
Shoukry reviewed with Senator Lindsey Graham, the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, 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.
The statement added that Shoukry reviewed the regional development and the Egyptian vision to address the different crises in the Middle East. He also reviewed Egypt’s efforts to reach political solutions to regional problems as well as ways to face the Turkish role in destabilizing the region, Hafez’s statement added.
The two sides also discussed the strategic ties between the two countries as well as the need for continued US support for Egypt to be able to confront security, political, economic and social challenges.
President Donald Trump on Wednesday praised a meeting with top representatives from the three countries, saying on his Twitter that it “went well and discussions will continue during the day!.”
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! pic.twitter.com/MsWuEBgZxK— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 6, 2019
Eventually, Shoukry, before leaving Washington, on Wednesday said that the meetings 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.
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 Mnuchin to assess progress in negotiations, according to Shoukry.
Shoukry expressed President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi's deep appreciation for 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.