Ethiopia, Egypt, Sudan meet over dam dispute

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia 

Water ministers and experts from Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt on Friday begun a two-day meeting to reach an agreement on the filling and operation of the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

The tripartite negotiation in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, which has involved observers from the U.S. government and World Bank, is a first round of four meetings agreed by the three countries in Washington earlier this month.

GERD is Ethiopia’s mega power project which is being built at a cost of $5 billion since 2011.

Egypt which receives more than 85 percent of water from Nile fears that GERD would significantly harm its water share. The tripartite negotiations that had begun in 2013 failed to bear results.

Earlier in November, the U.S. government invited Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt to reset the stalled talks and the three countries agreed to resume talks which begun today in Addis Ababa.

The three sides are expected to reach an agreement by Nov. 15, 2020.

Addressing the meeting, Ethiopia’s Minister of Water Irrigation and Energy, Seleshi Bekele said that the technical gathering was the outcome of the Washington meeting and would dwell on contentious issues of the filling of GERD.

“We would like to build on previous negotiations and agreed upon political principles to iron out and resolve pending issues,” he said.

Bekele added that 69.37% of the dam has already been constructed and related electro mechanical work was underway as planned.

“We call upon the observers from U.S. government and the World Bank to remain neutral in the course of the negotiations,’’ Bekle added.

Mohammed Abdel Aty, Egypt’s minister of Water Resources and Irrigation, for his part, said he is optimistic that the negotiation would reach at “a win-win solution without causing significant harm to the parties.”

“We believe a fair and balanced solution would also be helpful to Ethiopia,” he added.

Sudan’s Water Minister Yasser Abbas also expressed optimism and said: “The meeting would come out with a just proposal on the filling and cooperation on GERD.”
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