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Sudan urges decisive progress on GERD filling process

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A satellite image shows the GERD and the Blue Nile on 26 June 2020 (Maxar Technologies- Reuters)

August 3, 2020 (KHARTOUM) - Sudan Monday said that decisive progress was needed in negotiations over the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) and called to discuss specific agenda during a period not exceeding two weeks.

Irrigation ministers from Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia resumed Monday afternoon, virtual negotiations on the GERD filling and operation hosted by Cyril Ramaphosa head of the African Union and South Africa President.

In a speech delivered during the meeting, Sudanese Minister of Irrigation Yasir Abbas demanded that "the current round of negotiations be decisive and to set specific agenda for a two-week period."

Also, he called to give the observers a greater role to narrow the gaps between the parties, focus on the outstanding issues and not to present any new issues to the negotiations. He expressed hope that this approach would help to reach a "binding agreement" on the GERD filling and operation, including a deal on future projects on the Blue Nile River.

"The Sudanese negotiating delegation held wide consultations since the end of the last round of negotiations, especially after the negative effects of starting the filling of the dam without prior consultation," said the minister.

"Unilateral action before reaching an agreement between the three countries re-raised concerns about a repeat of such a move in the future, specifically the GERD environmental and social impacts on farmers along with the banks of the Blue Nile river and their safety" he further said.

On 21 July, Ethiopia announced the achievement of the initial filling stage of the mega-dam stressing it was not planned but the natural result of the heavy rains. The move angered Khartoum which rejected the unilateral step.

The Sudanese reiterated his country demand for a legally binding agreement under the international law, another point of discord which Ethiopia which calls for a guideline and rejects any agreement saying it will impede its future projects on the Blue Nile.

Sudan calls for a tripartite agreement that guarantees the safety of the Roseires Dam which is not far from the GRED demanding that the deal include the exchange of information between the two dams to protect the small dam.

Sudan is mainly interested in the protection of the Roseires Dam but refused in the past bilateral agreement with Ethiopia on the matter.

For its part, Egypt sees the GERD as a threat to the vital water supplies and seeks an agreement that ensures its annual needs of water.

(ST)

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