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Egypt committed to negotiations in face of Ethiopia’s absence

CAIRO – 26 February 2020: In response to Ethiopia’s non-attendance of the ministerial meeting to be held on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) in washington on February 27-28, Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs affirmed Egypt’s commitment to the negotiations path fostered by the United States and the World Bank.
Spokesperson Ahmed Hafez pointed out that the goal of the upcoming meeting is finalizing an agreement to fill and operate the dam. The agreement was crystalized by the United States and the World Bank in accordance with the negotiations that took place among Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan since November 6 in the U.S. capital.
Hafez declared that the Egyptian ministers of foreign affairs and irrigation will attend the meeting called upon by the U.S. administration as a sign of appreciation to its constructive role over the past months to help the three states reach the hoped for agreement.
The spokesperson added that the participation of Egypt aligns with its approach reflecting good will and honest desire to reach a final agreement on the filling and operation of GERD.
Following the final round of the meetings between the Nile Basin countries, the US and the WB representatives in Washington D.C. on February 12-13, 2020, the three countries issued a statement saying that the negotiations achieved a concrete development.
"The ministers reviewed the progress achieved by their technical and legal teams and continued their discussions on the remaining issues necessary for a final agreement. The ministers reaffirmed the importance of trans-boundary cooperation in the development of the Blue Nile to improve the lives of the people of Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan, and their shared commitment to concluding an agreement," the U.S. Department of Treasury said in a statement on February 14, 2020.
The agreement "includes the dam’s stage-based filling plan, and specific procedures to deal with droughts, prolonged droughts, and dry years that may coincide with the filling process, in addition to the long-term operationalization rules, including the GERD operationalization under normal hydrological conditions, as well as procedures for dealing with droughts, prolonged droughts, and dry years," said Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ahmed Hafez in a statement.
The difference between the three Nile basin countries dates back to May 2011 when Ethiopia started building the dam; Egypt voiced concern over its water share [55.5 billion cubic meters]. Three years later, a series of tripartite talks between the two countries along with Sudan began to reach an agreement while Ethiopia continued the dam construction.
In 2015, the three countries signed the Declaration of Principles, per which the downstream countries [Egypt and Sudan] should not be negatively affected by the construction of the dam. Since then, the talks have been resumed, but In October 2019 blamed Addis Ababa for hindering a final agreement concerning a technical problem, calling for activating the Article No. 10 of the Declaration of Principles, which stipulates that if the three countries could not find a solution to these differences, they have to ask for mediation.
Additional reporting by Samar Samir