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No progress in Nile dam talks due to Ethiopia’s ‘intransigent stances’ – Egyptian minister

Egypt’s Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation, Mohamed Abdel-Aaty, says there has been no progress made in the recent tripartite talks over the Ethiopian grand dam built on the Nile River due to Ethiopia’s “intransigent stances”.

Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam
Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam

Abdel-Aaty disclosed this in a statement issued late on Wednesday, June 17, 2020.

The Minister’s remarks came following a virtual meeting with his Sudanese and Ethiopian counterparts regarding the controversial Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) constructed on their shared Nile River.

“Ethiopia refused during discussion of the legal aspects that the three countries conclude a binding agreement in accordance with international law,” said the Egyptian minister.

Over the past few years, tripartite talks on the rules of filling and operating Ethiopia’s grand hydropower dam have been fruitless, including those hosted by Washington, amid Egyptian concerns that the GERD would affect Egypt’s annual share of Nile water.

Ethiopia has recently said that it would soon start filling the reservoir, while Egypt has repeatedly warned against any unilateral action without a prior tripartite agreement.

Abdel-Aaty said that Ethiopia refused to reach an agreement that includes “a binding legal mechanism for the settlement of disputes.”

The Egyptian minister added that Egypt has sought an agreement that achieves Ethiopia’s development goals while limiting the negative impacts and damages that the dam may have on the two downstream countries, referring to Egypt and Sudan.

“Egypt has been engaged in the latest round of negotiations called for by Sudan in good faith,” said the Egyptian minister, stressing that his country tries all possible ways to reach “a fair and balanced agreement” on the GERD.

Ethiopia also declined a proposal to refer the issue to the prime ministers of the three countries “as a last chance” to find a solution for the stalled negotiations, according to the statement.

The $4 billion GERD is expected to produce over 6,000 megawatts of electricity and become Africa’s largest hydropower dam upon completion.

Filling the reservoir, whose total capacity is 74 billion cubic meters, may take several years.

The longer the better for Egypt to avoid the negative effects of water shortage, which is a main point of their talks.

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