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Sudan, Egypt to coordinate efforts to bring Ethiopia to sign GERD binding deal

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Sudan, Egypt foreign and irrigation ministers meet in Khartoum to discuss GERD crisis on 9 June 2021 (ST photo)June 9, 2021 (KHARTOUM) - Sudanese and Egyptian foreign and water ministers agreed to coordinate international efforts to bring Ethiopia to sign a legally binding agreement on the filling and operation of the renaissance dam.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and Irrigation Minister Mohamed Abdel Aty were in Khartoum on Wednesday to discuss with their Sudanese counterparts joint steps after Addis Ababa refusal to ink a deal with them and its plans to launch the second phase of the GERD’s reservoir filling next July.

In a joint statement issued after the meeting, the four ministers said they discussed the developments of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam issue, after the failure of the African Union efforts to persuade Addis Ababa to sign an agreement with the downstream countries.

The two sides agreed on the serious risks and severe effects of the unilateral filling, further said the statement.

"They further agreed to coordinate bilateral efforts at the regional, continental and international levels to press Ethiopia to negotiate in good faith and true political will to reach a comprehensive, fair and legally binding agreement on filling and operation of the Renaissance Dam".

The Democratic Republic of Congo’s President Felix Tshisekedi who chairs the African Union told Aljazeera TV on 20 May that he would hold a meeting between the leaders of the three countries in June to reach an agreement over the GERD issue.

Tshisekedi added that he made significant progress with the leaders of the three countries during his visits to Khartoum, Cairo and Addis Abba last May.

As Ethiopia will hold national and regional elections on 21 June, such a meeting could intervene after the vote.

In a related development, Ethiopian scholars said on Wednesday that Egypt and Sudan have to contribute financially to support the natural resources conservation works carried out in the Blue Nile Basin.

According to the official Ethiopian News Agency, one of the contributions that the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) makes to Sudan is minimizing the recurrent flooding and sedimentation on its hydropower dams.

"Protecting the source of the river should not be left only to Ethiopia. Since Sudan and Egypt are the major beneficiaries of Abay River, they have the responsibility to protect the water from drying up," said Gete Zeleke Water and Land Center Director at the Addis Ababa University.

During the talks, the Ethiopian government proposed to include a water-sharing deal in the talks but Sudan and Egypt refused the demand saying the matter was not part of the 2015 declaration of principles.

(ST)

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