Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam talks resume as political tensions mount

Workers at the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam in Ethiopia last year. (AFP)
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Updated 21 November 2020

Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam talks resume as political tensions mount

  • The latest discussions are part of efforts mediated by South Africa, current leader of the African Union, to reach a legally binding agreement on filling and operating the controversial dam

CAIRO: Ministers from Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia launched a new round of talks on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) this week amid growing political tensions in Ethiopia’s Tigray region.
The resumption of negotiations follows a failure by the three countries to reach an agreement on a workable mechanism for the talks earlier this month.
The latest discussions are part of efforts mediated by South Africa, current leader of the African Union (AU), to reach a legally binding agreement on filling and operating the controversial dam.
Egypt said in an official statement that it wanted negotiations to resume as soon as possible in order to reach a “fair and balanced agreement” that preserves the water rights of all three countries.
However, Yasser Abbas, Sudan’s irrigation minister, announced that “the Renaissance Dam negotiations are paused indefinitely.”
“The request to extend the negotiations for 10 days is of no use,” he added.
Abbas said that the GERD will have a greater impact on the Roseires Dam in Sudan than on Egypt’s High Dam.
“Sudan is adhering to the African Union’s condition of changing the methodology. We do not aim to stop the negotiations in order to negotiate in closed circles. There is insistence not to complete the negotiations in the absence of experts,” Abbas added.
Ethiopia confirmed that the meeting reached an understanding on the need to continue talks on the rules for the first mobilization and the annual operation of the Renaissance Dam.
“The president of the Executive Council concluded the meeting and urged the parties to develop a text that could be presented to the meeting of heads of state and government,” it said.
The Ethiopian statement indicated that the tripartite technical meeting chaired by the minister of water, irrigation and energy affairs of Ethiopia is expected to resume.
Sudan insists on a change in the previous negotiation approach and that time limits be set to reach understandings on any negotiation issue.
The discussions held this month ended without an agreement between the three countries on the methodology for completing the negotiations in the next phase.
The three countries agreed that each will submit a report to South Africa on the course of the meetings and the implementation of AU decisions made on June 26 and July 21.
The delegations from the three countries had presented their vision to complete the negotiations in the previous round. During the meeting, Egypt stressed the need to implement the decisions of the AU bureau’s meetings, by reaching a binding legal agreement on filling and operating the dam in a way that achieves the common interests of the three countries and secures their water interests.
Sources concerned with the Nile water issue confirmed that the current negotiations face a number of challenges, including the difficulty of agreeing on a mechanism for resolving disputes stipulated in the Declaration of Principles signed between the leaders of countries in 2015, and the careful coordination and exchange of information regarding the operation of water dams in Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia, which may lead to major technical problems in the absence of a rapid and compatible mechanism for coordination and exchange of information between the two sides.


Zarif ‘desperate’ to blame Saudi Arabia for anything negative that happens in Iran: Al-Jubeir

Updated 19 sec ago

Zarif ‘desperate’ to blame Saudi Arabia for anything negative that happens in Iran: Al-Jubeir

  • “It is not the policy of Saudi Arabia to engage in assasinations; unlike Iran” minister tweeted

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir said on Tuesday Mohammad Zarif, Iranian foreign minister, was “desperate” to blame Saudi Arabia for anything negative that happens in Iran.

“Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif is desperate to blame the Kingdom for anything negative that happens in Iran. Will he blame us for the next earthquake or flood?” he tweeted.

“It is not the policy of Saudi Arabia to engage in assasinations; unlike Iran, which has done so since the Khomeini Revolution in 1979. Ask us, and ask many other countries who have lost many of their citizens due to Iran’s criminal and illegal behavior,” he added.

Al-Jubeir's comments come after Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was killed in an ambush near Tehran on Friday.

Fakhrizadeh has been described by Western and Israeli intelligence services for years as the leader of a covert atomic bomb programme halted in 2003, which Israel and the United States accuse Tehran of trying to restore in secret.

Iran has blamed external entities, including Israel and an exiled opposition group, for the killing.