Egypt is committed to Washington’s GERD talks, Ethiopia skips meeting

Daily News Egypt
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Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a Wednesday statement that Egypt is committed to the negotiations path, particularly that this week’s meeting aims to put the final touches on the agreement.

“Egypt’s ministers of irrigation and foreign affairs will take part in the meeting, appreciating the role of the US administration over the past months to help the three countries reach an agreement,” read the statement, noting that “Egypt’s participation comes inconsistent with its approach that reflects good intentions and sincere desire for reaching an agreement.”

The foreign ministry statement came in response to the Ethiopian announcement, as Addis Ababa said that it has communicated with the US Treasury secretary regarding its decision to skip these talks.

Egypt’s Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Mohamed Abdel Aty headed to Washington, US on Wednesday, leading the Egyptian technical delegation in negotiations over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

The is set to be held on Thursday and Friday with the participation of technical delegations from Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia. The US Secretary of the Treasury, and the President of the World Bank will take part as observers in negotiations.

The meeting comes in light of the outcomes of another that was held on 12 and 13 February between the three parties in Washington.

Even though it was expected that this meeting would be the final one for negotiations, Ethiopia said on Tuesday night that it will not participate in Washington’s brokered get-together “because the country’s delegation hasn’t concluded its consultation with relevant stakeholders,” according to statements by the Ethiopian ministry of water, irrigation, and energy on its Facebook page.

In the previous meeting, the parties reached an agreement on the following issues, subject to the final signing of the comprehensive agreement: “a schedule for a stage based filling plan of the GERD; a mitigation mechanism for the filling of the GERD during drought, prolonged drought, and prolonged periods of dry years.”

The parties agreed to finalise a mechanism for the annual and long-term operation of the GERD in normal hydrological conditions, a coordination mechanism, and provisions for the resolution of disputes and the sharing of information.  Moreover, they also agreed to address dam safety and pending studies on the environmental and social impacts of the GERD.

Ethiopia started construction of the GERD in April 2011, despite Egypt’s concerns that the construction of the dam could negatively affect its historic Nile water share of 55 bn square metres, which it had access to since the historic 1959 agreement between Egypt, and Sudan. Addis Ababa denies any intention to go against Egypt’s interests.

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