Final Testing, Filling of GERD Should Not Take Place Without Agreement: US

By Staff Reporter  

February 29, 2020 (Ezega.com) -- The United States says final testing and filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) should not take place without an agreement between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan.

In a statement issued on Friday, the U.S. Treasury Secretary said it shares the concerns of downstream populations in Sudan and Egypt due to unfinished work on the safe operation of the GERD, and the need to implement all necessary dam safety measures in accordance with international standards before filling begins.

US statement comes after Ethiopia withdrew from the Washington facilitated talks and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin held in separate bilateral meetings with the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and the Ministers of Water Resources of Egypt and Sudan.

The statement also followed hundreds of Ethiopian demonstrators took the streets of Washington DC calling the United States and World Bank to stop putting pressure on Ethiopia to accept a deal against its will.

A Member of an Ethiopian delegation in the GERD talks in Washington DC told local media that some members of the US and World Bank were insisting Ethiopian delegation to accept a new deal on share of Nile water against planned discussion points involving on the filling and operations of the dam.

“If you do not sign the deal, there will be a consequence,” some representatives of the US were quoted as saying even though they had roles as observers.

Ethiopia is set to begin the first round water filling of the GERD’s reservoir in July this year and claims that the GERD will not bring any significant damage to the downstream countries rather would as economic integrations in the East African region.

The Ethiopian members also said the latest round of GERD talks was a “disaster” because it was taking place 1 to 4 wherein Ethiopia stood on one side and Egypt, Sudan, the US and World Bank on the other. Ethiopia said it will resume to the US-facilitated talks after consultation with its officials and scholars.

The US statement said consistent with the principles set out in the DOP, and in particular the principles of not causing significant harm to downstream countries, final testing and filling should not take place without an agreement.

The statement said the United States facilitated the preparation of an agreement on the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) based on provisions proposed by the legal and technical teams of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan and with the technical input of the World Bank.

The United States believes that the work completed over the last four months has resulted in an agreement that addresses all issues in a balanced and equitable manner, taking into account the interests of the three countries.

This process has built on the prior seven years of technical studies and consultations between the three countries, and the resulting agreement, in our view, provides for the resolution of all outstanding issues on the filling and operation of the GERD. The foundation of the agreement is the principles agreed between the three countries in the 2015 Agreement on Declaration of Principles (DOP), in particular the principles of equitable and reasonable utilization, of not causing significant harm, and of cooperation, the statement noted  

“We note that a signed agreement on the GERD will be transformational for the region, resulting in significant trans-boundary cooperation, regional development and economic integration, and improvement in the lives of the more than 250 million people of Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan.  We are pleased with the significant work by the countries over the last four months, which has only been possible due to the strong commitment to constructive dialogue and cooperation," the statement added. 

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