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Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan pledge to reach agreement over GERD filing by 15 Jan

Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam is seen as it undergoes construction work on the Blue Nile in Guba Woreda, Ethiopia on 26 Spet 2019 (Reuters photo)
November 6, 2019 (KHARTOUM) - Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan foreign minister Wednesday agreed to hold four technical meetings to reach an agreement over the disputed filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) by 15 January 2020.

The top diplomats reached the agreement in a meeting held in Washington hosted by the US Treasury Department and attended by the World Bank.

A joint statement released after the meeting said the three top diplomats reaffirmed commitment to reach an agreement on the filling and operation of the GERD and to establish a clear process for fulfilling that commitment in accordance with the 2015 Declaration of Principles.

The foreign ministers further agreed "to hold four technical governmental meetings at the level of water ministers. The ministers agreed that the World Bank and the United States would support and attend the meetings as observers".

The ministers also agreed to reach a deal by January 15, 2020.

Also, the parties will meet in Washington on December 9, 2019, and January 13, 2020, to assess and support progress.

"If an agreement is not reached by January 15, 2020, the foreign ministers agree that Article 10 of the 2015 Declaration of Principles will be invoked," reads the statement.

The article 10 provides that " If the parties involved do not succeed in solving the dispute through talks or negotiations, they can ask for mediation or refer the matter to their heads of states or prime ministers".

Ethiopia, which is expected to start filling the GERD reservoir next year, rejected two months ago an Egyptian proposal that the reservoir-filling process be at the annual flow of 40 billion cubic meters.

Last October, ahead of a meeting between President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on the sidelines of a Russian-African summit in the Russian city of Sochi, an Egyptian foreign ministry official told reporters that the dispute is deepening and they prefer that a mediator intervenes to settle it.

"We are hoping this meeting might produce an agreement on the participation of a fourth party,” an Egyptian foreign ministry official told journalists at a briefing. "We are hopeful to reach a formula in the next few weeks."