Egypt accepts Ethiopia-Sudan proposal to renegotiate dam dispute

Ethiopia said it would not delay filling the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, above, which it began constructing in 2011. Workers move iron bars with a crane at the unfinished reservoir on December 26, 2019. (AFP)
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Updated 22 May 2020

Egypt accepts Ethiopia-Sudan proposal to renegotiate dam dispute

  • Egypt and Sudan fear the reservoir – which has a capacity of 74 billion cubic meters – will trap their essential water supplies

CAIRO: Egypt said Thursday it is willing to resume negotiations with Sudan and Ethiopia over the filling of a controversial mega-dam that has been a source of tension between all three Nile basin countries.
“Egypt is always ready to enter into negotiations and participate in upcoming meetings... to reach a fair, balanced and comprehensive agreement,” the foreign ministry said in a statement late Thursday.
The ministry said the agreement would have to take into account “Egypt’s water interests as well as those of Ethiopia and Sudan.”
Cairo’s thawing stance comes after Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok held a virtual meeting with his Ethiopian counterpart Abiy Ahmed earlier Thursday to hammer out a deal.
The online meeting comes after Addis Ababa said it would not delay filling the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) which it began constructing in 2011.
In April, Ahmed proposed proceeding with the “first stage filling” that would collect 18.4 billion cubic meters of water in the dam’s reservoir over two years.
But both Egypt and Sudan fear the reservoir — which has a capacity of 74 billion cubic meters — will trap their essential water supplies.
Hamdok and Abiy’s talks were the first after a diplomatic spat that broke out between Egypt and Ethiopia reached the UN Security Council.
Filling and operating the dam “would jeopardize the water security, food security, and indeed, the very existence of over 100 million Egyptians, who are entirely dependent on the Nile River for their livelihood,” Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said in a letter to the UN Security Council dated May 1.
In a response dated May 14, Ethiopian Foreign Minister Gedu Andargachew accused Egypt of being obstructionist.
“Ethiopia does not have a legal obligation to seek the approval of Egypt to fill the dam,” Gedu said.
Egypt wants Ethiopia to endorse a draft agreement emerging from the talks earlier this year facilitated by the US Treasury Department, which stepped in after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi put in a request to his ally US President Donald Trump.
But Ethiopia skipped the most recent round of those talks and denies any deal was agreed upon.
Cairo’s heavily worded letter to the Security Council raised the specter of the possibility of armed conflict stemming from the dam deadlock.


LIVE: Middle East returns to normal life amid strict COVID-19 measures 

Updated 5 min 58 sec ago

LIVE: Middle East returns to normal life amid strict COVID-19 measures 

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Emirates airline also announced that it was taking bookings for flights from Dubai to 12 Arab countries from the start of July. Emirates began operating scheduled flight services to nine destinations around the world from May 21, including London Heathrow, Frankfurt, Paris, Milan, Madrid, Chicago, Toronto, Sydney and Melbourne.
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