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GERD Dispute: Observers hold separate talks with the three Nile riparian states

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July 4, 2020 (KHARTOUM) - The African Union (AU) and international observers will hold separate talks with Sudan, Ethiopia and Egypt in a bid to narrow the gaps and break the deadlock in the tripartite talks on the first filling of the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

The planned Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam project (AP)Egypt referred the dispute to the UN Security Council urging to prevent Ethiopia to refrain from unilateral decision while Addis Ababa maintains its threat that they will go ahead with the process on 15 July even if no deal was reached with the downstream countries.

The three countries resumed on Friday, the talks on the disputed filling of the giant dam under the auspices of the African Union and the participation of the European Union, the United States and a number of AU experts.

Mohamed al-Sebai the spokesman of the Egyptian irrigation ministry told the Egyptian TV channel CBC late on Saturday that the lack of progress during Friday and Saturday direct talks pushed the observers to propose indirect talks.

"The dispute still exists on the fundamental points. And the change in the negotiation mechanism from direct negotiation between the three countries to bilateral negotiation between the observers and each country separately, i.e. indirect negotiation, all of that, indicating that there is a continuing dispute on the fundamental points," said al-Sebai.

The Egyptian official further said there is a disagreement over several technical and legal matters including the drought mitigation measures during the long-term filling period, the dispute resolution mechanism and the data exchange mechanism.

In Khartoum, Sudanese delegation issued a statement confirming the agreement on separate meetings between each country and the observers.

The statement further repeated Khartoum declared position that any agreement should be legally binding to the three parties. Also, said that any agreement between the three countries should only be dedicated to the filling process only, rejecting any discussion on the water allocation.

On the technical issues, the statements said an agreement on the few pending issues is possible.

In Addis Ababa, the foreign ministry published some extracts from its letter to the Security Council pointing that the GERD is a development project, not a security threat.

The foreign affairs ministry also urged the Ethiopians, across the world to explain that the position of their government for an equitable, and reasonable use of the Nile water and cooperation between the riparian countries.

(ST)

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