East Africa: Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia Resume Talks On GERD

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (Gerd), under construction since 2011, began holding back water after the the Blue Nile swelled during heavy rains in July.

A new round of tripartite talks between Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia regarding the controversial Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) resumed on Sunday in Cairo, according to a statement by the Egyptian Ministry of Irrigation.

The new round convened as per the outcomes of a bilateral summit between Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on the sidelines of the Sudan's neighboring Countries Summit that was held in Egypt in July.

During the Sunday meetings, Egyptian Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Hani Sewilam affirmed that reaching a balanced and legally binding agreement on the rules of filling and operating the GERD is vital, the statement said.

He confirmed that any unilateral action in this regard should be stopped, noting that the ongoing operation of the GERD in the absence of a legally binding agreement violates the Agreement on Declaration of Principles (DoP) of 2015.

"Egypt continues to exert utmost efforts to ensure the success of the negotiations," Sewilam reiterated, saying that Egypt sees multiple technical and legal solutions that meet the needs and interests of all three countries.

On July 13, 2023, Egypt and Ethiopia agreed to reach a final agreement on GERD in a period of four months, according to a joint statement by both countries issued following a bilateral meeting between President El-Sisi and Abiy Ahmed.

The two leaders discussed means to overcome the current stalemate in the GERD negotiations.

The two leaders stressed their mutual political will to enhance the bilateral relations, politically, economically, and culturally, based on the common desire to achieve their mutual interests, and the prosperity of the two brotherly peoples. This will also actively contribute to the stability, peace, and security of the region, as well as the mutual ability to deal with common challenges.

In this regard, they agreed on the following points:

1- To initiate expedited negotiations to finalize the agreement between Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan on the filling of the GERD and the rules of its operation, stressing they will do all the necessary efforts to finalize it in four months.

2- During the period of these negotiations, Ethiopia has indicated its commitment, during the filling of the GERD within the hydrological year 2023-2024, not to cause significant harm to Egypt and Sudan, so that the water needs of both countries are well provided.

Egypt and Sudan have been calling on Ethiopia to sign a legally-binding agreement to ensure the preservation of their water interests and people's rights.

The two downstream countries have urged Ethiopia to refrain from unilateral measures with regard to the mega dam, warning of the consequences of filling and operating the dam unilaterally before a binding deal is signed.

However, Ethiopia has rejected the signing of such a deal and has continued its dam filling and operation plans over the past years. Ethiopia is also preparing to implement the fourth filling of the dam's 74-billion-cubic-metre reservoir during the coming period despite the two countries' objection.

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