Cairo, (UNA-OIC) – The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam negotiations resumed on Monday as part of the African Union-sponsored talks, with the participation of Water and irrigation Ministers of the countries of Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia.
Egypt’s Water Ministry said in a statement that both Egypt and Sudan expressed their concern regarding the unilateral filling, which Ethiopia has done. According to the Ministry’s statement, this move ‘raised questions regarding the current course of negotiations and reaching a fair agreement.’
Sudan Minister of Irrigation Yasser Abbas called on setting a clear and specific agenda for each negotiation period, which was agreed to take two weeks, in addition to the need to prepare clear protocols for exchanging information and reports among all parties.
Abbas stressed the need to give the experts a more substantial role during the next round of talks and to continue based on what was reached and achieved. He noted the need to focus on the points of contention between the three countries.
Sudan also called for a one-week delay in the negotiations to conduct further consultations among all three countries, which was collectively agreed upon.
The next round of negotiations was set to be on Monday, August 3.
On Friday, the African Union called (AU) on Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia to urgently finalize a binding agreement on the filling and operation of the Renaissance Dam, with the support of African Union experts and observers.
In its statement, the AU said that the latest meeting on the GERD negotiations July 21, reflected noticeable progress in the negotiations.
This statement, however, came in conjunction with Ethiopian statements rejecting any binding agreement, according to Al Arabiya.
Ethiopia’s Foreign Ministry explained that it only seeks to reach a ‘guiding agreement,’ not binding regarding the GERD legal and technical aspects.
On July 21, a Mini-Summit was held via video conference between the three countries officials as part of the African Union-sponsored negotiations. The meeting was followed by a speech from Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, in which he said that Egypt has a ‘sincere desire’ to make progress regarding the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam negotiations and its ‘points of contention.’
Presidency spokesperson Bassam Rady added in a statement that Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan agreed on prioritizing reaching a legal agreement on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam filling and operating and to be followed with another comprehensive agreement between the three countries.
Sisi added that achieving progress regarding the ‘contentious issues’ requires ‘political will,’ which enhances the opportunities and exerted efforts along with supporting building-trust and achieving common interest between the three countries.
Sudanese Irrigation Minister Yasser Abbas said following the summit that Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia agreed on continuing negotiations regarding Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, GERD to overcome ‘points of contention.’
Six officials and congressional aides told Foreign Policy, July 22, that The US administration is considering suspending some aid to Ethiopia, as Ethiopia’s prime minister announced the completion of the first filling of the Renaissance Dam, which heightened tensions with Egypt over fears of water shortage.
The United States announced earlier this year that it would continue to work with Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan until they sign an accord on the hydropower dam, according to US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
The three countries had expected at the time to sign an agreement in Washington on the filling and operation of the $4 billion dam, however, Ethiopia skipped the meeting and only Egypt has initialed the deal.
Mnuchin praised Egypt’s decision to initial the brokered document, which includes rules for filling and operating the controversial dam in Ethiopia. He also warned Ethiopia from filling the dam before an agreement is reached.
The sponsorship of negotiations by the US and the World Bank started in November last year after rounds of failed negotiations between Egypt and Ethiopia.