GERD parties agree to new week of talks on disputed points 

Mohammed El-Said
4 Min Read

The parties involved in negotiations on the Ethiopian dam concluded a virtual meeting, on Tuesday, by mandating Sudan to call for a week of negotiations on the disputed points, Egypt’s Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation announced.

Khartoum has been designated as the head of the current round of talks, although no date has yet been set for the start of the expected week of negotiations. 

During the week, representatives from Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia, will complete and revise an agreement, which was prepared during the latest round of meetings on 28 August, on the dam reservoir’s filling and operation.

On Tuesday, Ministers of Foreign Affairs, and Water Resources, from the parties involved in negotiations on the Ethiopian hydroelectric dam met online to discuss the disputed issues over its filling and operation. 

Observers from the African Union (AU) Assembly Bureau, alongside representatives from AU member states, the US, and the EU were present at the meeting.

Each country reviewed their respective views on the issues under discussion. They also exchanged proposals regarding the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam’s (GERD) filling and operation, Egypt’s Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation said. 

The resumption of talks comes in response to a call by South Africa, the current Chair of the AU. It aims to reassemble representatives from Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan for a resumption in negotiations after almost two months of suspension. 

The meeting was held on the basis of outcomes from the 21 July mini-summit that gathered leaders of the three nations, and the outcomes of the ministerial meeting on 16 August that took place between the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, and Water Resources, from the three countries. During the meetings, the parties agreed to work on reaching a legally binding document.

The outcomes of the latest Ethiopian dam negotiations on 28 August reflected deep divisions between the three countries involved. The most recent round of talks ended without consensus on the disputed points regarding the filling and operation of the GERD.

On Friday, the US President Donald Trump said, “It’s a very dangerous situation, because Egypt is not going to be able to live that way.  They are going to end up blowing up that dam … they will blow up that dam.” 

President Trump pointed to the latest US measures against Addis Ababa, which includes the cutting off of millions of US dollars in aid to Ethiopia, after the latter broke a deal to resolve the GERD dispute.

Trump’s statements angered Ethiopia, which summoned the US Ambassador to Addis Ababa to protest against the statements. 

Moreover, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed described the GERD construction as “an affirmation of Ethiopia’s commitment to equitable and reasonable utilisation of the Blue Nile River”.

In a statement on Saturday, he said, “Occasional statements of belligerent threats to have Ethiopia succumb to unfair terms still abound….These threats and affronts to Ethiopia sovereignty are a misguided, unproductive and clear violation of international law.”

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Mohammed El-Said is the Science Editor for the Daily News Egypt with over 8 years of experience as a journalist. His work appeared in the Science Magazine, Nature Middle East, Scientific American Arabic Edition, SciDev and other regional and international media outlets. El-Said graduated with a bachelor's degree and MSc in Human Geography, and he is a PhD candidate in Human Geography at Cairo University. He also had a diploma in media translation from the American University in Cairo.