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Wednesday, 25 December 2019

Egypt isn’t backing down from its GERD filling proposal, Irrigation Ministry says

THIRST WATCH- Egypt isn’t backing down from its GERD timeline proposal: Egypt has not withdrawn its proposal on the timeline for the filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam’s (GERD) reservoirs and is holding its ground on its stance in the ongoing negotiations over the matter, according to an Irrigation Ministry statement. Egypt’s main sticking point is ensuring that a minimum of 40 bcm of Nile water flows into the country per annum, which would require Ethiopia to fill the dam’s reservoirs at a slower pace than it wants. Despite it being central to the protracted negotiations between Cairo and Addis Ababa, this issue is not one Egypt has budged on, ministry spokesman Mohamed El Sebaie told ‘Ala Mas’ouleety (watch, runtime 12:16). El Sebaie vehemently denied reports that Ethiopian Irrigation Minister Seleshi Bekele said Egypt had dropped this requirement.

The clock is ticking, as Ethiopia plans to begin filling the dam in July 2020, Bekele reportedly said during Egypt-Sudan-Ethiopia technical talks that wrapped up in Khartoum on Sunday. Bekele had also described the outcome of the talks as “disappointing.” The foreign ministers of Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan vowed after a get-together in Washington, DC, last month to hash out their differences by no later than mid-January. The ministers scheduled three rounds of technical talks, the last of which was the Khartoum sit-down before convening again in Washington. As the three countries appear to have struggled to reach a resolution, the ministers are squeezing in a bonus round of talks in Addis Ababa on 9-10 January before the 13 January meeting in the US capital.

The foreign press seems optimistic enough: The National’s Hamza Hendawi says that a long-awaited resolution for the standoff might be imminent in light of “recent breakthroughs in the negotiations,” namely Sudanese Irrigation and Water Resources Minister Yasser Abbas, saying that the three nations have come closer to aligning their views.

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