CAIRO: Egypt is keen to complete negotiations on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) issue, a government minister said, as Sudan on Wednesday asked the UN Security Council to meet and discuss the dam dispute.
Ethiopia is pinning its hopes of economic development and power generation on the GERD, but Egypt fears it will threaten its water supply from the Nile. Sudan is concerned about the dam’s safety and its own water flow.
Mohamed Abdel-Ati, who is Egypt's minister of water resources and irrigation, emphasized his country’s persistence in preserving its water rights and achieving the benefit for all parties in any GERD agreement that was reached.
On his visit to South Sudan, where he met the First Vice President Riek Machar and Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Manawa Peter, he stressed the pursuit of a just and binding legal agreement that met the aspirations of all countries in development.
He also highlighted Egypt's flexibility in negotiations during the past few years which, he added, had been met with the “intransigence of the Ethiopian side.”
Abdel-Ati arrived in Juba on Monday along with an official delegation for a five-day visit to hold talks on promoting bilateral cooperation, including in the field of water management.
They discussed the latest developments on the Nile water issue and their countries' current positions on the GERD.
Abdel-Ati said Egypt was implementing projects in all Nile Basin countries and African countries, and that the projects implemented in South Sudan aimed to serve its people and achieve stability for them by solving drinking water problems and protecting against the dangers of floods.
He added that projects were currently being implemented in seven countries and that the number was expected to increase to 10 soon.
His remarks came as Sudan asked the UN Security Council to meet and discuss the dam dispute.
Foreign Minister Mariam Sadiq Al-Mahdi called on the council to hold a session as soon as possible to discuss the GERD and “its impact on the safety and security of millions of people,” Reuters reported, quoting a government statement.
She called on the council’s leader to urge Ethiopia to stop the “unilateral” filling of the dam “which exacerbates the dispute and poses a threat to regional and international peace and security.”
The Arab League’s envoy to the UN, Maged Abdel Fattah, said on Tuesday that Sudan and Egypt were working on a draft resolution to the council on the GERD if Ethiopia did not reach a deal.
Arab states would lobby for the draft resolution to be approved, he told Egyptian TV, adding that he did not expect world powers to block it.