Dam talks ‘at crossroads’ after Egypt rejects Ethiopian plea

In this file photo taken on December 26, 2019, a general view of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), near Guba in Ethiopia. (AFP)
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Updated 12 July 2020

Dam talks ‘at crossroads’ after Egypt rejects Ethiopian plea

  • Cairo is calling for alternative ideas to deal with droughts and years of low revenue

CAIRO: Egypt has rejected a request by Ethiopia to postpone a settlement on points of disagreement surrounding Ethiopia’s controversial Renaissance Dam.

Ethiopia wanted the issue to be referred to a technical committee, which will be formed to oversee implementation of the terms of the agreement.

Ethiopia’s request was submitted on the eighth day of the Renaissance Dam negotiations.

Egypt rejected the request, saying the points of disagreement are major technical issues.

The Egyptian Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation said that two meetings for the technical and legal teams from Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia will be held to try to solve the dispute over the dam.

Negotiations are sponsored by the African Union, representatives of the three countries and observers.

Cairo is calling for alternative ideas to deal with droughts and years of low revenue, the Egyptian ministry said.

Egypt also presented its vision regarding the annual operating rules and refilling, as part of an attempt to resolve technical disagreements between the three countries.

Sudan believes a compromise is possible on the project.

“In general, there has been progress on technical issues,” the Sudanese ministry said.

“There was also an extensive discussion on future development projects on the Nile and its relationship to water use between the three countries.”

The dam, which sits on the Nile’s main tributary, is upstream of Egypt and has the potential to control the flow of water to the country.

When fully operational, it will be the largest hydro-electric plant in Africa, providing power to 65 million Ethiopians who currently lack a regular electricity supply.

Ethiopia says it will start filling the dam to coincide with the rainy season, a move Egypt rejects.

SPEEDREAD

Two meetings for the technical and legal teams from Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia will be held to try to solve the dispute over the dam, according to the Egyptian Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation

The water ministers of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia will meet on Sunday, in accordance to the agreed negotiating schedule, to reach solutions on the issue of the Renaissance Dam.

Experts from the three countries are scheduled to meet in a bid to resolve outstanding technical and legal issues surrounding the project.

Mohamed El-Sebai, a spokesman for the Egyptian Ministry of Irrigation, said that the Egyptian delegation put forward a formula for resolving points of disagreement during the recent discussions, in parallel with technical and legal committee meetings.

Ethiopia sought to postpone any discussion until it started to fill the dam. It also set a condition that a technical committee be formed to discuss points of disagreement.

El-Sebai said that the final meetings will be on Sunday, and a final report will be submitted to the African Union.

Observers will sit with the delegations of each country and the technical committees.

He said that Ethiopia believes it is free to administer the Blue Nile and refuses to recognize any other country’s rights.

“They talk about it directly and indirectly, indicating that there is a great delay in the Ethiopian side in the negotiations.”

Former Egyptian foreign minister Nabil Fahmy said that there is a consensus in the Egyptian and Sudanese positions regarding some of the main elements in the Renaissance Dam issue, though there is a difference in the priorities of the two countries.

“The Renaissance Dam negotiations are at a crossroads, and some escalation has occurred. I believe that there are opportunities to reach a solution if there is political will, but there will be inevitable clashes if there is no solution,” Fahmy said.


France’s Macron to host donor conference for blast-stricken Lebanon

Updated 35 min 54 sec ago

France’s Macron to host donor conference for blast-stricken Lebanon

  • Rebuilding Beirut could run into the billions of dollars
  • Economists forecast the blast could wipe up to 25% off of the country’s GDP

PARIS: French President Emmanuel Macron will host US President Donald Trump and other political leaders on Sunday for a UN-endorsed donors’ conference by video to raise emergency relief for Lebanon following this week’s massive explosion in Beirut.
Lebanon was already mired in deep political and economic crisis when the blast ripped through its main port on Tuesday, killing 158 people, injuring more than 6,000 and destroying a swathe of the city.
Rebuilding Beirut could run into the billions of dollars. Economists forecast the blast could wipe up to 25% off of the country’s GDP.
Many Lebanese are angry at the government’s response and say the disaster highlighted the negligence of a corrupt political elite. Protesters stormed government ministries in Beirut and trashed the offices of the Association of Lebanese Banks on Saturday.
Macron visited Beirut on Thursday, the first world leader to do so after the explosion, and promised the Lebanese people humanitarian aid would come but that profound political reform was needed to resolve the country’s problems and secure longer term support.
“I guarantee you, this (reconstruction) aid will not go to corrupt hands,” Macron told the throngs who greeted him.
There has been an outpouring of sympathy for Lebanon from around the world this week and many countries have sent immediate humanitarian support such as a medical supplies, but there has been an absence of aid commitments so far.
Trump will participate in the video-link conference.
“Everyone wants to help!” he tweeted.
Germany will commit an additional 10 million euros ($11.79 million) in emergency aid on top of the rescue contributions already underway, its foreign minister said.
A Macron aide declined on Saturday to set a target for the conference. Emergency aid was needed for reconstruction, food aid, medical equipment and schools and hospitals, the official said.
Representatives of Britain, the European Union, China, Russia, Egypt and Jordan are expected to join the conference, hosted by Macron from his summer retreat on the French Riviera. Israel and Iran will not take part, the Elysee Palace official said. ($1 = 0.8485 euros)