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Ethiopia’s unilateral actions over disputed dam will have consequences – Egypt

Ethiopia’s unilateral actions over the filling and operation of the controversial Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) will have “massive negative repercussions,” Egypt’s Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Mohamed Abdel-Ati warned on Sunday, March 28, 2021.

Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam
Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam

Abdel-Ati gave the warning during his meeting in Cairo with the U.S. Special Envoy for Sudan Donald Booth and Marina Vraila, head of the political, press and information section of the European Union (EU) delegation to Cairo, Egypt’s Ministry of Irrigation and Water Resources said in a statement.

The minister and the U.S. and EU diplomats tackled the current position of the GERD negotiations and ways to restart the talks with the aim of reaching a fair and binding legal agreement for filling and operating the mega dam.

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During the meeting, Abdel-Ati reviewed Egypt’s clear desire to complete the negotiations, emphasising his country’s determination to preserve of its water rights, according to the statement.

The minister also affirmed Egypt’s full support for the Sudanese proposal which calls for forming an international quartet led by the Democratic Republic of Congo, the current chair of the African Union (AU), that includes the AU, the United States, the EU and the United Nations.

Ethiopia, an upstream Nile basin country, unilaterally carried out the first phase of filling the dam in July 2020 and is planning to go ahead with the second phase in July this year in spite of the concerns of Egypt and Sudan, which have repeatedly called for a prior tripartite binding agreement on the rules of filling and operating the controversial dam.

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Ethiopia started building the GERD in 2011, while Egypt is concerned it might affect its 55.5-billion-cubic-meter annual share of the Nile water.

Sudan has recently been raising similar concerns over the 4-billion-U.S.-dollar dam.

Over the past few years, tripartite talks on the rules of filling and operating the giant hydropower dam, whose total capacity is 74 billion cubic meters, have been fruitless, including those hosted earlier by Washington and the recent ones by the AU. 

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