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GERD Negotiations Reach Dead End

GERD Negotiations Reach Dead End

Thursday, 5 November, 2020 - 08:45
This satellite image of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile river in the Benishangul-Gumuz region of Ethiopia. Maxar Technologies via AP

Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan have failed to agree on a new negotiating approach to resolve their years-long dispute over the controversial Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) that Ethiopia is building on the Blue Nile.

The Sudanese Ministry of Irrigation stated that the last round of negotiations failed to make any tangible progress regarding the role that experts could play in the negotiations methodology, path, and timetable.

Sudanese Minister of Irrigation Yasser Abbas said that Sudan was still adhering to the negotiation process under the auspices of the African Union (AU), but with a new methodology to reach a satisfactory agreement for all parties on filling and operating the GERD.

Sudan fears it could endanger the safety of its own dams especially that Roseires Dam is 15 kilometers from the Renaissance Dam.

The ministry said Sudan maintained its position on refusing to return to negotiations according to the previous methodology, which did not make any progress.

It will try to convince the parties to give experts attending the talks a bigger and more effective role. While Ethiopia approved this suggestion, Egypt turned it down.

Foreign and irrigation ministers of the three nations met last week and delegated experts from their countries to discuss and agree on an approach that would make the talks more fruitful. Talks were also attended by observers from the AU, the European Union, and the US.

Egypt and Sudan have repeatedly stressed the significance of reaching a binding agreement concerning the rules of filling and operating the dam.

Ethiopia began building the dam in 2011. Authorities started filling the reservoir of the GERD on July 21. However, the completion of the first filling phase prior to reaching an agreement with Egypt and Sudan irked both countries.

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