US, WB Role on GERD Talks Limited to Assisting Negotiators - Ethiopian FM

By Staff Reporter

Gedu-Andargachew-FM-EthiopiaNovember 8, 2019 (Ezega.com) -- The role of United States and World Bank as observer in future talks between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) project is limited to assisting the countries to reach a win-win solution.

Briefing journalists and Ethiopian diplomats and community in Washington DC on Friday following the conclusion of the US mediated talks between the three countries, Ethiopian Foreign Minister Gedu Andargachew said the US mediated talks involve just procedures on how the three countries would resolve differences in relation to the GERD project.

He said the US mediated talks rather helped Ethiopia to explain its position to the world community with regard to the project and on the use of the Nile waters fairly and equitably to the benefits all countries involved.

“We explained the benefits that the GERD project would bring about to the people of Ethiopia and neighboring countries especially to Egypt and apparently we used the discussion to address misconception the world community may have towards the GERD project,” he said

Based on the agreement, the three countries will hold four rotating negotiations starting from November 15, 2019, in Addis Ababa. Cairo and Khartum will host 2nd and 3rd negotiations, respectively, and the 4th will be held in January 20, 2020, in Addis Ababa.

In case the countries fail to reach an agreement before January 20, 2020, the leaders of the three countries will be involved on the matter and that would be followed by assigning a mediator.

Finding a mediator requires the acceptance of the three countries as stated in the agreement document. Article 10 of the agreement signed by the countries in 2015 will not affect any party and all of us accepted and signed, Engineer Sileshi Bekele, Ethiopian Minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy said at the briefing.

The latest negotiation has given Ethiopia a good opportunity to get the confirmation of Sudan’s support for the GERD project, Ethiopian Ambassador to the US Fitsum Arega said.

According to the Ambassador, the negation was helpful in that the mediators could identify the problems for suspension of previous talks. He was referring to Egyptian officials claim that the GERD issue is more political, not technical. Hence, the US-mediated talks proved the issue was technical, Fitsum said.

In a statement issued on Thursday, the three countries 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.

 “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.

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