24 August 2014

Egypt Wants Sudan to Mediate in Nile Water Tripartite Meeting

Khartoum — The Egyptian minister of irrigation, Hussam Maghazi, said that his country is looking forward to seeing Sudan play an intermediary role in the tripartite meeting which will be held in Khartoum on Monday in a bid to arrive at a satisfactory agreement on the controversial Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

Khartoum will host a new round of talks on Monday and Tuesday which have been going on for the last two years between Sudan, Egypt, and Ethiopia on the Renaissance Dam. The previous three rounds had fallen short of achieving full agreement on the issue.

Maghazi said in press statements on Sunday that his delegation had received political instructions to engage in talks with Ethiopia with an open heart, saying Egypt sees that negotiations is the only available option to arrive at an agreement on the issue.

Khartoum's meeting seeks to achieve an agreement on a joint mechanism for implementing the recommendations of the International Panel of Experts (IPoE) regarding the GERD.

The IPoE is composed of six representatives each drawn from Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan, and four other international experts and was established to assess the impact of the dam project on downstream countries.

The Egyptian minister also said his ministry is still considering the project to link the River Nile to the Congo River, but stressed the project would not be a substitute for negotiations on the GERD.

He said the Egyptian side will raise a question in the meeting on whether the Ethiopian side would submit the additional studies requested previously by the IPoE, predicting the latter would make the studies ready in the coming period.

Sudan's undersecretary of the ministry of water resources and electricity, Musa Omer Abu al-Gasim, said the meeting comes within the framework of his country's positive and pivotal role towards the Nile basin countries.

He stressed Sudan's keeness on coordination among partners to utilise water resources to achieve sustainable development for the benefit of the peoples of the region.

Abu al-Gasim further pointed that development in Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia would largely participate to development of the East and North African region.

Sudan's minister of water resources and electricity, Mutaz Musa, told the official news agency SUNA on Sunday that the meeting represents a good opportunity for convergence and agreement among the three countries, pointing it would put them into the right track regarding the agenda put forward on the negotiations table.

Tripartite meetings had stopped six months ago.

Egypt argues the multi-billion dollars project, which Ethiopia is building along the Nile River near the Sudanese border, would eventually diminish its water share. It further asserts that the dam, which is the largest along the Nile river would reduce the amount of electricity generated by the Aswan Dam and adversely impact its agricultural production.

The IPoE in their final report said Ethiopia's dam project would not result in any significant harm to the two downstream countries, Sudan and Egypt.

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