Egypt: Shoukri Reiterates Egypt's Confidence in Congo-Led GERD Talks

Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukri reiterated Egypt's confidence in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)'s leading of the negotiations process on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) controversy.

In statements at a joint press conference he held Thursday 16/9/2021 with visiting Congolese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Christophe Lutumdula, Shoukri said "We have full confidence in the ability of the DRC to lead the negotiations."

Shoukri referred to the role of the DRC; being the current African Union (AU) president, saying "We are looking forward to receiving an invitation at the nearest possible time for the resumption of negotiations on GERD, in implementation of a UNSC statement calling for international observers' active participation in support of the AU president on this score, with a view to promptly reach a binding legal agreement regulating the operation and refilling of the dam."

Foreign minister Shoukri said his talks with the DRC FM took up bilateral relations and coordination and cooperation at the regional level.

The talks focused in particular on the GERD dispute given the DRC's chairmanship of the African Union and the presidential statement issued by the UN Security Council yesterday calling for a resumption of the negotiations led by the AU to reach a binding agreement on the filling and operation of the GERD, he said.

He also said that Egypt looks forward to receiving invitations in the nearest possible time for the resumption of GERD negotiations, in implementation of the presidential statement.

He welcomed the active participation of international observers invited to the African Union-led negotiations -- and any other observers that Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan may consensually decide to jointly invite -- to continue to support the discussions with a view to facilitating the resolution of outstanding technical and legal issues.

Shoukri said that the Congolese Minister came to Egypt after consultations he had in Addis Ababa and Khartoum, noting that Egypt has full confidence in the wisdom and leadership of the current AU presidency and the ability of the Congolese president to reach an agreement that resolves the decade-running dispute.

He pointed out that the Security Council presidential statement underlines the importance of the time element with a view to finalizing the text of a mutually acceptable agreement on filling and operating the dam "within a reasonable time frame".

He said that Egypt believes that if there were a strong political will on the part of all the parties concerned an agreement could be reached.

He also said that he was posted by the Congolese minister on the DRC's vision regarding the approach that should be adopted during the coming period, promising to study it thoroughly and inform the AU presidency of the Egyptian opinion so as to contribute to re-starting the negotiation process.

For his part, visiting Congolese Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Christophe Lutumdula voiced his appreciation over the warm reception he was accorded in Cairo, along with his accompanying delegation.

He lauded the outcome of his meeting with the Egyptian foreign minister, saying their talks were positive and would help work out a solution for all issues pertaining to GERD, with view to strengthening development efforts in Africa and within the AU.

He added that the Congolese president instructed him and his accompanying delegation to embark upon a tour of the three countries to probe with their officials ways to resume negotiations on GERD.

Lutumdula highlighted the Congolese president's view on the importance of entrenching African integrity and unity.

He said DRC is looking forward to realizing progress on the GERD file.

The minister further thanked Egypt for its continued cooperation with his country toward towards achieving stability and fruitful construction.

When asked about the deadline of the negotiations and guarantees from the Ethiopian side, Sameh Shoukri said it is believed that when negotiations are re-launched, a time frame would be determined.

The UNSC presidential statement mentioned the time element two times, the first was when it called for a rapid resumption of the negotiations and the second was when it came to the necessity of reaching a legally-binding agreement as soon as possible, reflecting the member states' keenness on addressing the issue and reaching an agreement in accordance with a set time frame, the foreign minister said.

Commenting on the guarantees, Shoukri said they will be included in the agreement in accordance with the international norms, noting that it is a technical issue whose formula should be thoroughly studied and well clarified. Having clear and well-defined guarantees would preserve the rights of the three involved states, he noted.

Meanwhile, the DRC FM said that the parties agreed on a fundamental principle, stipulating that facilitators shall not introduce new rules but use regulations on which work has already been set.

Each organization could contribute to introducing a solution to the conflict to help give a push to this file, he added. He was referring to the UN and the AU.

He noted that negotiations should end with the signing of a document or a protocol to guarantee that all parties would fulfill their obligations.

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