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New Round of GERD Talks Begins Monday

New Round of GERD Talks Begins Monday

Monday, 3 August, 2020 - 07:45
The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam as it appears in a satellite image taken on July 20, 2020 (AFP)

A new round of negotiations will begin Monday between Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which Addis Ababa is constructing at the Nile River and raises Egyptian-Sudanese concerns.

For nearly a decade, talks between the three countries over the operation and filling of the mega-dam have faltered.

The trilateral negotiations will be held under the African Union South African presidency and the presence of observers from the European Union, the United States and African countries.

They aim at reaching a final agreement that will end the water conflict.

Egypt stressed on Sunday evening the importance of reaching a “binding legal agreement.”

Its Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation said Egypt “adheres to every opportunity for negotiations and discussion even after Ethiopia announced the unilateral filling of the dam’s reservoir.”

In late July, Ethiopia announced completing the first stage of filling the reservoir of 4.9 billion cubic meters of Nile waters, which allows testing the first two turbines in the dam.

Its announcement was made despite calls from Egypt and Sudan to postpone its unilateral filling plans until a comprehensive agreement is reached.

Egypt stresses the importance of reaching a governing framework for all the differences with Ethiopia on GERD.

Spokesman of the Egyptian Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation Mohamed al-Sebai said Egypt and Sudan have some outstanding technical differences, as well as many concerns.

The water issue is not a matter of welfare or development for Egypt but rather a matter of life and existence, Sebai noted.

The main points of disagreement among the three countries mainly involve the technical and legal sides, specifically reaching a mechanism to handle periods of drought.

Cairo fears the potential negative impact of GERD on the flow of its annual share of the Nile’s 55.5 billion cubic meters of water, while Addis Ababa says the dam is not aimed at harming Egypt or Sudan’s interests, stressing that the main objective is to generate electricity to support the development process.

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