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Sudan’s Hamdok committed to U.S. mediated talks on Ethiopia’s dam

Hamdok meets head of Egypt intelligence service and irrigation minister on 9 April 2020 (SUNA photo)
April 10, 2020 (KHARTOUM) - Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok Thursday reiterated Sudan’s commitment to the US-mediated process on the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

The Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok on Thursday received the visiting Egyptian delegation comprised of intelligence director Abbas Kamel and the irrigation minister Mohamed Abdelaati.

Sudan news agency (SUNA) reported that "the two sides reiterated adherence to the Washington negotiation track on the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) as well as the 2015 tripartite Declaration of Principles signed in Khartoum".

The three countries were expected to sign an agreement in Washington last February on the filling and operation of GERD but Ethiopia unexpectedly pulled out in 11th hour dealing a major blow to the US-brokered negotiations.

The U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin who was tasked by President Donald Trump to oversee the talks previously asserted that filling the dam should not take place without an agreement to prevent "significant harm to downstream countries".

Hamdok also discussed with the Egyptian officials his upcoming visits to Cairo and Addis Ababa to discuss the issue of GERD with the two nations.

Sudan has appeared to be seeking to bridge the gap between Ethiopia and Egypt on the issue despite Cairo’s perception that Khartoum is taking Addis Ababa side on the issue.

Egypt depends on the Nile for the bulk of its water needs and views the dam as an existential threat while Ethiopia insists that its dam is intended to fulfil its power needs without harming Egypt or Sudan.

The visiting Egyptian delegation also met with the head of the Sovereign Council Abdel Fattah al-Burhan before to return to Cairo.

Sudanese irrigation minister on Tuesday said that the three countries have no choice but to resume negotiations.

The minister further said that the three parties, U.S. Treasury and the World Bank have finalized a draft agreement on the filing of the dam, adding that the February meeting had to settle a few items before to sign the deal.

He stressed that Sudan did not initial the draft agreement because it should be first endorsed by the three parties but this did not happen because Ethiopia was absent.

"Our position is clear as we emphasized in the last meeting at the end of last February, that there is no point in signing a draft agreement of which all the details were not completed".