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Thursday, 5 November 2020

Diplomacy + Foreign Trade on 5 November 2020

Topping diplomatic coverage this morning: GERD negotiators can’t even agree on how to continue negotiations. The Egyptian, Ethiopian and Sudanese irrigation ministers were unable to reach an agreement on how to proceed with negotiations over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam following a week of talks, the three countries announced in separate statements here, here and here. The talks “failed to make any tangible progress … in agreeing on the role to be played by African Union experts in the negotiations, as well as the mechanism for negotiations and their timeline,” the Sudanese Irrigation Ministry said. According to the statement, Sudan and Ethiopia agreed to grant AU experts a bigger role going forward, but Egypt vetoed the suggestion, preferring that the talks continue in their current format.

Each country will now submit a report detailing their position to the AU chairperson and South African International Cooperation Ministry, which will advise on how the AU-brokered talks should proceed. After being on hold since August, negotiations resumed last month, days after Ethiopia slammed US President Donald Trump’s suggestion that Egypt may resort to military force if an agreement is not reached.

Egypt and Palestine may look to formally demarcate their maritime borders in the coming months as the Palestinian Authority puts together a team of experts to negotiate the issue, Al Monitor reports, citing an unnamed official at the Palestinian Foreign Ministry. Palestine demarcating its maritime borders is becoming a more pressing need as Israel “continues to steal Palestinian natural resources,” the source says. Palestine is one of the founding members of the East Mediterranean Gas Forum, signing its charter back in September alongside Egypt, Israel, Italy, Jordan, and Greece.

In other diplomatic news worth highlighting:

  • The Egyptian Chinese Joint Investment Company is looking for small and medium-sized manufacturers who might want a piece of a 600k sqm manufacturing zone it is setting up in Ain Sokhna after signing a MOU with the Suez Canal Authority, the local press reports.
  • Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Zayed and President Abdel Fattah El Sisi discussed regional issues in a phone call Wednesday, Emirates News Agency reports, without giving any details.

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