US, World Bank to Observe GERD Talks

By Staff Reporter

GERD-Talks-DCNovember 7, 2019 (Ezega.com) -- Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan have agreed to resume talks in which the United States and World Bank will participate as observers on the filling and other operations of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) project.

In a joint statement issued after the meeting in Washington DC, the ministers — Sameh Hassan Shoukry of Egypt, Gedu Andargachew of Ethiopia, and Asma Mohamed Abdalla of Sudan — noted the significance of the Nile to the development of the people of their countries, and "reaffirmed their joint commitment to reach a comprehensive, cooperative, adaptive, sustainable, and mutually beneficial agreement on the filling and operation" of the GERD.

Many people who Ezega.com spoke to in Addis Ababa could not hide their surprise as to how the Ethiopian delegation accepted the involvement of a third party against the previous position of the government.

The US-mediated talks seemingly ended in favor of Egypt which was calling for a third party to involve in water filling and other operations of the GERD.

The meeting, spearheaded by Mnuchin and also attended by World Bank Group President, David Malpass, came about after Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi requested that Trump mediate the conflict over the dam.

The statement further said the three countries also agreed to establish a clear process for fulfilling that commitment in accordance with the 2015 Declaration of Principles.

They agreed to hold four technical governmental meetings at the level of water ministers in attendance of the World Bank and the United States as observers.

The Minister also agreed to work toward completion of an agreement by January 15, 2020, and would attend two meetings in Washington, DC on December 9 and January 13, 2020, to assess and support progress. “If an agreement is not reached by January 15, 2020, the Foreign Ministers agree that Article 10 of the 2015 Declaration of Principles will be invoked,” the joint statement indicated.

The Foreign Ministers also reaffirmed the significance of the Nile to the development of the people of Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt, the importance of trans-boundary cooperation, and their shared interests in concluding an agreement.

In an October 5 statement, the Ethiopian government condemned Egypt's proposal for Nile water allocation, calling Egypt's conditions for filling the massive reservoir of the GERD "unjustified" and disruptive to "the positive spirit of cooperation."

Egypt and Ethiopia have disagreed for years about how to divert water from the Nile. Addis Ababa is proposing the reservoir behind the dam to be filled over four to seven years. But Egypt wants to require Ethiopia to receive approval at various points of the filling process, a step Cairo said is necessary to avoid droughts.

Sudan has a 1959 Nile Waters Agreement with Egypt, reached shortly before Egypt began constructing its own Aswan High Dam, but Ethiopia was not part of that agreement.

Egypt has long sought external mediation on the GERD, while Ethiopia wants to keep the negotiations at the tripartite level.

Prior to the meeting in Washington DC, the Ethiopian government said the talks "are not negotiations."

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