Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

GERD Talks Continue to Solve Disputed Issues

GERD Talks Continue to Solve Disputed Issues

Saturday, 11 July, 2020 - 06:15
A construction worker walks near the stop log section at Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam as it undergoes construction on the Blue Nile in Guba Woreda, Sept. 26, 2019. (Reuters)

Meetings of technical and legal committees on the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) continued on Friday for the eighth day in a row to reconcile viewpoints over the dam's points of disagreement between Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan.

The talks are sponsored by the African Union and attended by observers from the US and the EU.

The Egyptian Water Ministry said the discussions will continue by holding bilateral meetings for the observers with the three countries separately next Monday while ministers of the three countries would meet on Sunday.

In a statement issued late on Thursday, the Egyptian Ministry of Water Resources said a final report of the negotiations would be handed to South Africa as the head of the African Union on July 13.

The Ministries of the three countries still have not agreed on technical and legal points.

Spokesperson of the Egyptian Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation Mohammed El Sebaei said that Ethiopia still insists on its demands and position on the technical and legal parts of the agreement. “This reduces the chances of reaching an agreement,’ he said, adding that Egypt considered these technical and legal parts are "the backbone of the agreement".

In statements to a local channel, Sebaei said that main points of disagreement mainly involve the technical and legal sides, specifically reaching a mechanism to handle periods of drought.

The ministry said Egypt has put forward some alternative formulations with an aim to bring views closer regarding times of drought or extended drought, and to the annual filling and operation rules.

For its part, Sudan said the tripartite negotiations on GERD at the level of the Water Ministers of Sudan, Egypt, and Ethiopia aim to go beyond points of dispute and to bridge the gap in viewpoints to reach an agreement for all parties.

Ethiopia sees the dam as essential for its electrification and development, while Sudan and Egypt view it as a threat to essential water supplies.

After several rounds of failed negotiations, the United States and the World Bank-sponsored talks from November 2019 geared towards reaching a comprehensive agreement, after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi put in a request to US President Donald Trump.

But the process ran aground after the Treasury Department urged Ethiopia to sign a deal that Egypt backed as "fair and balanced".

Editor Picks