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Congolese president to visit Sudan for talks on GERD filling

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Félix Tshisekedi DRC President speaks in a meeting on the GERD issues on 4 April 2021 (ACP photo)May 3, 2021 (KHARTOUM) - Congolese President Félix Tshisekedi will travel to Khartoum soon for talks with Sudanese officials on the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), said foreign minister Mariam al-Mahdi on Monday.

According to the official Agence Congolaise de Presse (ACP), al-Mahdi made the announcement of the visit after a meeting in Kinshasa with the chairperson of the African Union. Kshisekedi appears more involved in the GERD process in comparison with the South African President Cyril Ramaphosa who led the process last year.

"President Tshisekedi will visit Khartoum soon to discuss all these questions with a view to finding a win-win solution, " said the Sudanese top diplomat according to ACP.

Sudan says a legally binding agreement on the filling and operation of the giant dam is needed to serve as a reference to resolve any future disagreement. But, Ethiopia rejects the demand saying a non-compulsory guideline is enough.

Also, Sudan proposes a four-way process to reach an agreement on the GERD filling and operation saying the direct talks between the three countries have failed to produce a deal more than nine years after.

Tshisekedi is in consultations with the United Nations Secretary-General and the U.S. administration, added the Sudanese minister.

She further announced that a U.S. special envoy is expected very soon in Kinshasa to work with experts from the three concerned countries, with a view to finding a common solution.

"It is a question of a transboundary river, governed by international laws and rules, which requires the advice and expertise of international partners," stressed al-Mahdi.

In a letter to the UN Security Council on 16 April seen by the Sudan Tribune, Ethiopia accused Sudan and Egypt of seeking to scuttle the tripartite negotiation and internationalize the GERD issue to exert "maximum pressure on Ethiopia".

The letter reiterated Ethiopia’s commitment to the principle of "finding African solutions to African problems" and stated that it did not receive a "formal communication" about the Sudanese proposal for a quadripartite mediation led by the African Union.

"Whatever proposal that they may have, the right thing to do would have been to bring it to the appropriate forum, namely, the African Union-led tripartite negotiation process for discussion among the three countries," underscored the letter.

Ethiopia refused the quartet approach, during a meeting held in Kinshasa between the three countries called by the chairperson of the African Union from 4 to 6 April 2021.

After his return to Khartoum, the Sudanese Irrigation Minister Yasir Abbas told reporters Ethiopia rejects the involvement of the United Nations.

Ethiopia proposed to exchange data during the second filling of the GERD last April but Sudan declined the offer pointing that such operation should be discussed and agreed upon by the parties before launching it.

On Monday, a U.S. delegation led by Senator Christopher Coons arrived in Khartoum to discuss the border standoff between Sudan and Ethiopia and the GERD issue.

(ST)

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