CAIRO: Egyptian and Sudanese water security is “an integral part of Arab national security,” an Arab foreign ministers meeting concluded on Tuesday.
During a video conference, the foreign ministers rejected any action or measure that would affect the rights of all parties regarding the Nile’s water.
They urged Ethiopia to avoid filling the reservoir of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) before reaching an agreement.
The reservoir is scheduled to be filled next month.
Egypt is almost entirely dependent on the Nile for freshwater, and fears the dam will diminish its water supply, which is already below scarcity level.
About 85 percent of Nile water that reaches Egypt flows from the Ethiopian highlands.
Ethiopia hopes the massive $4.8 billion megaproject on the Blue Nile, which would generate 6,000 megawatts when completed, will make it Africa’s largest power exporter.
The Arab foreign ministers expressed appreciation for Sudan’s desire for negotiations, which were held from May 25 to June 17 this year with the aim of reaching an agreement on filling and operating GERD.
They also welcomed a call by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to persuade Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan to reach a joint agreement. They also hailed his support for Sudan’s efforts.
The ministers expressed concern about a stalemate in some aspects of the negotiation and stressed the importance of resuming talks.
Ethiopia was urged to avoid taking unilateral measures without reaching an agreement with upstream countries on the rules of filling and operating the dam. The ministers noted that such a measure would be a clear violation of the Agreement on Declaration of Principles concluded between the three countries on March 23, 2015.
They also confirmed that the three countries must adhere to the principles of international law and resort to the principle of equitable and reasonable utilization of water resources, the principle of cooperation, and the principle of prior notification and consultation. They also underlined the importance of completing technical studies on the economic, social and environmental effects of the dam on the two upstream countries.
The three ministers called for the resumption of negotiations in good faith, exerting efforts to reach a consensus leading to the resumption of negotiations at the earliest possible time if Ethiopia unilaterally announces that it will not start filling the dam until an agreement is reached.