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Security Council will encourage agreement over GERD: French diplomat

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A picture taken on July 20, 2020 shows an aerial view Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile River in Guba, northwest Ethiopia (AFP photo)July 2, 2021 (NEW YORK) - The Security Council will encourage Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia to resume negotiations and to reach a negotiated settlement over the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), said French Ambassador to the United Nation Nicolas de Rivière.

De Rivière who chairs the Security Council in July held a press conference on Thursday to introduce the headlines of issues that the 15 member body will discuss during the French presidency.

Asked about what the Council would do as Ethiopia plans to file the GERD this month without an agreement with the downstream countries, the French diplomat said they would call on the three countries to resume talks.

"We should call for the resumption of talks between the three countries and basically making technical arrangements to make sure that they share the water and cooperate etc..." said de Rivière.

"I do not think the Council can do more than that. We will certainly encourage the African Union to continue to participate in these efforts and maybe (ask) the UN Secretary-General as well (...)," he added.

The French ambassador said the Security Council does not have the technical expertise to settle the dispute and decide on the share of water that Egypt and Sudan can get.

"I’m not sure that the Security Council has the technical expertise to decide how many kilometres of water should go to Egypt go to Sudan and why and how etc...It is really beyond Security Council mandate and capacity," he said.

Sudan calls for a binding agreement on the filling and operating of the giant dam because Khartoum has fears that without such a deal the exploitation of GERD would harm its small dams on the Blue Nile and affects the water supply of about 20 million people in the Nile basin including Khartoum state.

Sudan and Egypt as well as the Arab League requested the intervention of the international body saying that the lack of an agreement over the filling and operating of the GERD constitutes a threat to the regional peace and security.

De Rivière did not say when the GERD issue will be discussed by the Security Council.

On Friday, the Ethiopian Ambassador to the United Nations Taye Atske Selassie told reporters the GERD issue would be discussed next week but he was not able to provide a date.

In return, Selassie who was speaking to reporters after a 4-hour meeting on the Tigray region reiterated his country opposition to the discuss the dispute over the transboundary river.

"I do not think it is the mandate of the Security Council. So, we stick to the African Union process," he said.

"We are committed to the AU-led process. There are some technical and legal issues that shouldn’t be politicized and shouldn’t be internationalized," he further stressed.

Asked by journalists about when his country would start the filling, the Ethiopian ambassador pledged to talk about that when the Security Council discuss the matter next week.

(ST)

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