Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan will resume negotiations on Tuesday, brokered by the African Union, on the rules for filling and operating the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which were suspended two months ago due to differences.
This comes days after the US President, Donald Trump, warned that the dam crisis could lead to military moves.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who is the current chair of the African Union, said the resumption of the talks demonstrated the confidence of the three countries in the EU-led negotiations.
The Egyptian Ministry of Irrigation announced that it would participate in the meeting, in order to “re-launch negotiations,” which was also confirmed by the Sudanese Minister of Water, who made clear that “previous negotiation methods must change.”
The three countries, in the presence of representatives of the African Union, the European Union and the United States, are looking into the possibility of reaching a fair, binding and lasting agreement regarding filling and operating the dam and being assured of the level of safety in it, amid disagreements about the amount of water flowing from the dam annually, especially during droughts, in addition to the mechanism for filling its reservoir and coordination. With the rest of the dams in the two downstream countries.
The spokesman for the Egyptian Ministry of Irrigation, Mohamed El Sebaei, said in a press statement that the Tuesday session will be attended by the Foreign and Irrigation Ministers, or their representatives, “and during that session, the foundations and agenda of the negotiation will become clear.”
The negotiation sessions were suspended at the end of last August due to what Egypt and Sudan considered “Ethiopia’s intransigence” regarding proposals related to the mechanism for operating and filling the Renaissance Dam, after Addis Ababa unilaterally started the stage of storing water in the dam lake in the first week of August .
What did the US President say about the dam?
“It’s a very dangerous situation because Egypt will not be able to live this way … and they will end up blowing up the dam,” Trump told reporters on Friday.
After this statement, Ethiopia accused Trump of inciting “war”.
Foreign Minister Guido Andargachu has summoned US Ambassador Michael Raynor to clarify Trump’s statement regarding the long-standing sensitive dispute over the Nile waters between Ethiopia and the downstream countries of Egypt and Sudan.
The ministry said, “The incitement of the current US president to the war between Ethiopia and Egypt does not reflect the long-term partnership and strategic alliance between Ethiopia and the United States, and it is also unacceptable in international law that governs relations between countries.”
On Saturday, the Ethiopian Prime Minister’s Office, Abiy Ahmed, defended the dam, saying Addis Ababa was committed to the African Union-led talks, which it said had made “significant progress”.
US mediation efforts between the three countries earlier this year failed after Ethiopia accused the United States of favoring Egypt.
How dangerous is the dam on Egypt and Sudan?
Sudan and Egypt fear that the dam will dry up their water resources.
Egypt depends on the Nile River for about 97 percent of its irrigation and drinking water. The Renaissance Dam is a threat to its life, while Ethiopia believes that the project is necessary to supply it with electricity and to develop it.
Last month, the United States announced the suspension of part of its financial aid to Ethiopia, noting the lack of progress in the talks that it had mediated, and “Addis Ababa’s unilateral decision” to start filling the dam’s reservoir.