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Egypt Says Has Several Proposals to Solve GERD Crisis

Egypt Says Has Several Proposals to Solve GERD Crisis

Sunday, 14 February, 2021 - 11:00
Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam is seen as it undergoes construction work on the river Nile in Guba Woreda, Benishangul Gumuz Region, Ethiopia (File Photo: Reuters)

Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said his country hopes the new African Union chairperson, President of Congo Felix Tshisekedi, will resume negotiations on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

He asserted that the Egyptian authorities take into account the interest of its people and want to prevent harm to Egyptians, noting that there are a number of proposals to deal with the crisis.

The top official indicated that Egypt was looking for a legal and binding agreement on filling and operating the Dam that takes into account the interests of the three countries concerned on an equal basis.

“We are aware of the gravity and the volume of time, and it is better not to speculate about anything negative. The process is under the auspices of the African Union, and we have hope that the President of Congo will continue to resume negotiations,” Shoukry said during a telephone interview with MBC Misr.

He indicated that the negotiations did not address the technical issues in the way that his country wanted and expected.

Nevertheless, Shoukry expressed his country’s readiness to continue the negotiations, looking forward to further coordinating with Sudan, especially after the formation of the new Sudanese government.

Ethiopia has been building the Dam on the main tributary of the Nile since 2011, and the Ministry of Water, Irrigation, and Energy announced it had completed about 78 percent of the construction so far.

Negotiations that took place under the auspices of the African Union between Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan were suspended after they failed last month to reach a consensus on the rules for filling and operating the dam.

Shoukri touched on the alternatives proposed to solve the Dam crisis, saying Egypt seeks to achieve reconciliation in generating electricity, as long as water conservation is taken into account.

“We are open and we do not have any problem, and we see that the Egyptian position bears development since the beginning of the negotiations, as long as there is a consideration for common interests,” he said.

He suggested a different method of negotiation such as the involvement of other international parties that could facilitate the matter, propose solutions, and evaluate the positions put forward by the three countries.

During the interview, Shoukry described Egypt-US relations as “close and strategic,” noting that Cairo has maintained in-depth dialogues with the US administrations for four decades.

Cairo and Washington upheld permanent contacts through diplomatic missions, senior officials, and ministers, he noted.

Asked about Egypt’s concerns regarding dealing with the new administration, Shoukry indicated that Biden’s administration has not clarified its positions on many regional issues, so the authorities need to explore the situation before judging the path.

"We have no room for concern or optimism," the minister said. "It is about how to manage relations naturally".

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