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Sudan rejoins Renaissance Dam negotiations

January 4, 2021 at 2:14 pm

A worker goes down a construction ladder at the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam in Ethiopia, on 26 December 2019 [EDUARDO SOTERAS/AFP/Getty Images]

Egypt and Sudan participated in a ministerial meeting yesterday sponsored by the African Union (AU) and focused on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) negotiations.

The government in Addis Ababa announced the meeting amid European encouragement to hold “constructive” talks.

On Saturday, the official Sudanese News Agency (SUNA) reported that Foreign Minister Omar Gamar El-Din and Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Yasser Abbas would take part. The meeting was chaired by South Africa’s Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Naledi Pandor.

SUNA quoted an unnamed official source as saying that the meeting was set to discuss Sudan’s proposal to activate the negotiations by giving a greater role to AU experts in order to reach a binding legal agreement on the dam, as requested by the Sudanese authorities.

READ: Sudan harmed most by Ethiopia Nile dam conflict

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and Water Resources and Irrigation Minister Mohamed Abdel-Ati also took part in the online session. The confirmation of their participation came days after Cairo announced that the Ethiopian Chargé d’Affaires in the Egyptian capital had been summoned in protest against the alleged interference of Ethiopian Foreign Ministry spokesman Dina Mufti in Egypt’s internal affairs. No details were provided about what Mufti is alleged to have said.

According to the European Union, the new meetings are an important opportunity to make progress towards an agreement on the filling of the dam and its operation. As an observer at the talks, the AU is encouraging all parties to demonstrate the political will to participate in a constructive and open manner.

Negotiations between the three countries have stalled over a period of nine years. There have been allegations between Cairo and Addis Ababa of intransigence and imposing unrealistic solutions.