There has – so far – been little information about the critical talks under way in the US between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan.
As reported by Egyptian media [see below] The “US Department of Treasury will host a meeting for the foreign ministers and water ministers of the three countries, along with representatives from the US treasury and the World Bank on January 13 to tackle the points of disagreement.”
According to the South African state broadcaster, SABC, the aim is to reach agreement by Wednesday, 15th January.
Two days of talks in Addis Ababa over the weekend ended in deadlock, according to the Chinese news agency.
‘After the meetings in the Ethiopian capital ended with no progress, Ethiopian water minister Sileshi Bekele accused Egypt of coming to the talks with no intention of reaching a deal.
“We didn’t agree on the filling of the dam, as Egypt presented a new proposal requesting the filling to be carried out in 12 to 21 years. This is not acceptable. We will start the filling of the dam by July,” Sileshi told a news conference.’
The disagreements between the three countries are well documented: how many years would it take to fill the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, the release of water from the dam and measures to be taken during droughts.
We await some statements from Washington on how the current talks are going – but if there is no progress then Ethiopia could begin filling the giant dam in just 5 months time.
Source: Egypt Today
3 points of disagreement between Egypt, Ethiopia over GRED: Spox
Firstly, both countries did not reach a consensus on the years of filling the dam’s reservoir during drought and prolonged drought, he told “Hadret al-Muwaten” [Or Mr. citizen] talk show on Al-Hadath Al-Youm on Saturday.
“We [Egypt] proposed that the dam’s reservoir be filled with water in 6-7 years during moderate inflow of the floods; however, in the periods of drought and prolonged droughts, we are calling for setting certain mechanisms to deal with filling during the drought,” he said, adding that Egypt has asked to fill the dam with the water needed for generating electricity in coordination with Egypt and Sudan.
“The second point of disagreement is the mechanism of dam operation during and after filling the reservoir, while the third point is linking the Renaissance dam to all other dams on the Nile, particularly the High Dam, during the filling period to not cause any harm to the downstream countries [Egypt and Sudan],” he continued.
During the last round of tripartite meetings between the water ministers of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia in Addis Ababa, Egypt and Ethiopia announced that the two-day discussions reached a deadlock again. Egypt said that it attempted to create a convergence of views via submitting a group of proposals and studies that guarantee for Ethiopia to generate electricity continuously and efficiently during periods of severe drought without causing harm to the Egyptian water share.
However, no agreement was reached between the three countries on the amounts of water that should flow from the dam in the different hydrological conditions of the Blue Nile River, where the dam is being built, Egypt said.
Meanwhile, the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry said, “Egypt’s proposal will make the Dam be filled in 12 – 21 years’ time and obliges Ethiopia to compensate the cumulative deficit for the water it uses for Dam filling.”
At the end of the Thursday talks, it has been agreed that the US Department of Treasury will host a meeting for the foreign ministers and water ministers of the three countries, along with representatives from the US treasury and the World Bank on January 13 to tackle the points of disagreement, according to a statement from the Egyptian Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry headed earlier to Washington DC to participate in a meeting for the foreign ministers and water ministers to resume the talks about the dam, said Egyptian Foreign Ministry in a statement.
The difference between the countries dates back to May 2011 when Ethiopia started building the dam; Egypt voiced concern over its water share [55.5 billion cubic meters]. Three years later, a series of tripartite talks between the two countries along with Sudan began to reach an agreement while Ethiopia continued the dam construction.
In 2015, the three countries signed the Declaration of Principles, per which the downstream countries [Egypt and Sudan] should not be negatively affected by the construction of the dam. Since then, the talks have been resumed, but In October 2019 blamed Addis Ababa for hindering a final agreement concerning a technical problem, calling for activating the Article No. 10 of the Declaration of Principles, which stipulates that if the three countries could not find a solution to these differences, they have to ask for mediation.
Later, the United States sent an invitation to the three countries to resume the talks, and it has been agreed on November 6, 2019, in Washington to conduct the four rounds of meetings in the presence of representatives from the United States and the World Bank. The first meeting was held on November 15-16 in Addis Ababa, while the second round was on December 2-3 in Cairo. The third round convened in Khartoum on December 22-23.