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Sudan, Egypt, Ethiopia fail to agree on mediation role in GERD talks

A satellite image shows the GERD and the Blue Nile on 26 June 2020 (Maxar Technologies- Reuters)November 4, 2020 (KHARTOUM) - The water ministers of Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia failed to reach an understanding on the role that the observers and experts can play in the talks over the filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

The Sudanese Ministry of Irrigation and Water Resources said in a statement on Wednesday night that the three riparian countries "failed to make any tangible progress on the role that experts can play in the negotiation, methodology, tracks and its timetable".

During the latest round of virtual discussions hosted in Khartoum from 27 October to 4 November, the Sudanese delegation presented a detailed proposal on giving a greater role to the African Union experts to narrow the gaps between the three parties and propose compromises.

Ethiopia agreed to "maximizing the role of the African Union experts and presented a proposal similar to the one of Sudan, but Egypt objected to the (Sudanese) proposal and made proposed continuing negotiations through previous methods," said the statement.

"The ministers of water resources in Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia agreed to end this round of negotiations on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam and return the file to the African Union," further said the statement.

For its part, the Egyptian Ministry of Irrigation said that it was agreed that each party would submit a report about its position to the South African President the current chair of the African Union.

The report "includes its vision on ways to implement the outputs of the two meetings of the African Union Bureau at the summit level, held on June 26, 2020, and July 21, 2020, which decided that the three countries would conclude a legally binding agreement on filling and operating the Renaissance Dam".

Sudan and Egypt during the past meeting stressed the need for a binding agreement on the filling of the dam.

However, Khartoum called for a joint regional and international mediation in a bid to allow the African Union and the international community to convince Ethiopia to commit to what he been previously agreed.

Ethiopia had called for a new process putting aside all that had been agreed including the Khartoum declaration of principles signed on 23 March 2015.

Sudan’s Irrigation Minister Yasir Abbas affirmed his country‚Äôs adherence to the negotiation process under the auspices of the African Union but stressed the need for a new methodology to reach a satisfactory agreement for all parties on filling and operating the giant new hydropower dam on the Blue Nile.

Abbas pointed out that Sudan cannot endlessly negotiate, and it must ensure the safety of its water installations, especially since the reservoir lake of the Rosaries dam is only 15 km away from the Ethiopian dam.