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Sunday, 12 January 2020

Egypt fails to reach GERD agreement with Ethiopia, Sudan

Latest GERD talks once again fail to yield an agreement: Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan failed to reach an agreement on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) during the latest round of talks that wrapped on Thursday in Addis Ababa, according to a Foreign Ministry statement. It appears the same sticking points have remained, with the statement blaming Ethiopia for having no “consideration of the water interests of the downstream countries, especially Egypt” in its reservoir-filling plans.

Ethiopia pointed the finger of blame right back at Egypt, saying Egyptian officials were “in no spirit of reaching an agreement,” according to the Associated Press. Egypt has proposed that Ethiopia extend the timeline for filling the reservoir to 21 years, from a currently planned 12, which Ethiopian Water and Energy Minister Sileshi Bekele said Addis Ababa would never accept. Ethiopia will continue as planned and start filling the dam in July 2020, Bekele said.

It all comes down to this week’s talks in Washington: Egyptian Irrigation Minister Mohamed Abdel Aty told Reuters that he hoped the situation would be solved in Washington, DC. by the agreed 15 January deadline. The US- and World Bank-brokered meetings begin tomorrow in the American capital. Abdel Aty appears to be optimistic, saying that despite failing to reach an agreement, Egypt “achieved clarity at least on all issues including the filling.” If the dispute is not resolved by the 15 January, the nations may resort to using an international mediator or involving the heads of states.

What are the chances of an extension? Al Masry Al Youm reported yesterday that sources familiar with the talks have said that the negotiations could be extended by an additional month or technical experts could be pushed into intensive two-week meetings in Washington if no solution is found this week. This would help avoid the politically problematic option of international mediation, which Ethiopia has made clear it would refuse.

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