Foreign Ministers of Nile Nations Hold Talks over Ethiopian Dam

ADDIS ABEBA – Water and foreign ministers of Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan have resumed talks over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) virtually on Sunday afternoon.

During the meeting, the officials exchanged views on the continuation of the trilateral negotiation focusing on a draft document presented by the experts assigned by the Chairperson of the African Union.

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“Ethiopia pronounced its positive outlook towards the draft document and expressed its willingness to use it as a single work document for the trilateral negotiation,” its Foreign Ministry said in a statement issued after Sunday’s meeting.

Similarly, it said Sudan conveyed the importance of the document for the progress of the negotiation and its willingness to proceed with the negotiation with a defined role of the AU experts.

Egypt categorically rejected the document, the statement said.

Main Difference

Most of the issues on the first filling and annual operation of the GERD are agreed on.

The main difference lies in the co-relations between the GERD Guidelines and Rules and the future water development projects on the Abbay Basin, according to the Ministry.

Since 2011, the Ethiopian government has pushed ahead with the construction of the GERD on the Blue Nile River.

Ethiopia insisted the dam is a non-consumptive hydroelectric generating dam. Its officials expect it to offer a major opportunity to pull millions Ethiopians out of poverty and become a major power exporter.

The Ministry also said any agreement over the dam, which is being negotiated in the absence of a comprehensive water treaty and the prevalence of an unjust status-quo, “shall be considerate of these fundamental factors”.

“Ethiopia will not agree to a GERD deal that will in any way restrict its right to use the Nile waters,” the ministry said.

It, however, reiterated the country’s commitment to conclude the negotiation with good faith to reach an agreement.

Talks to continue

During Sunday’s talks, Ethiopia has forwarded alternative approaches to Egypt and Sudan, which, it said, “is hoped to garner their affirmative response”.

In the coming week, the trilateral meetings will continue at expert’s level with oversight of ministers of water affairs, to take stock of agreed and outstanding issues.

Its outcome is expected to be presented to the next ministerial meeting scheduled be held on Sunday the 10th of January 2021.

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