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Wednesday, 4 April 2018

GERD talks to resume in Khartoum today

Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry is heading to Khartoum today to attend the two-day round of talks on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), according to a ministry statement. Shoukry will be joined by Irrigation Minister Mohamed Abdel Aty and Meetings and intelligence officials who will also meet with their counterparts from Sudan and Ethiopia. Dam negotiations had reached a gridlock last year, but the three countries agreed in January to continue looking for a solution. Sudan in particular has been more vocal on improved ties with Egypt. Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir said on Monday that the relationship reached a breakthrough, Al Masry Al Youm reports.

This comes as President Abdel Fattah El Sisi and newly-elected Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali reaffirmed their commitment to continued cooperation during a phone call yesterday, according to an Ittihadiya statement.

The Khartoum meeting is also a chance to engage with the Nile Basin initiative: It is no coincidence that the meetings are taking place concurrently with the annual summit of the Eastern states of the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI). Egypt, which is will not officially join those meetings, will likely use the trip to push its policy of re-engaging with NBI states. Egypt had suspended its membership in the NBI in 2000 to protest plans by upstream countries to renegotiate a 1959 water-sharing agreement.

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