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UAE diplomatic delegation intervenes to reactivate Renaissance Dam negotiations 

January 16, 2021 at 11:01 am

A general view of the Blue Nile river as it passes through the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on 26 December, 2019 [EDUARDO SOTERAS/AFP via Getty Images]

The official Sudan News Agency (SUNA) announced on Wednesday that a delegation from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Ministry of Foreign Affairs concluded a one-day visit to Khartoum, as part of new efforts made by Abu Dhabi aimed at reactivating the stalled Renaissance Dam negotiations between Sudan, Ethiopia, and Egypt.

SUNA reported that the efforts initiated by Abu Dhabi were not at the request of Khartoum. This comes at a time when Khartoum has intensified its stance towards Addis Ababa regarding the Renaissance Dam file, which coincided with the recent military tension prevailing on the borders shared by the two countries.

The news agency quoted an informed source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, stating that the Emirati delegation met with officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Irrigation and Water Resources, and heard from officials a detailed explanation of Khartoum’s position on the Renaissance Dam file.

Never-ending fight between Egypt/Ethiopia and Sudan over the Renaissance Dam - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Never-ending fight between Egypt/Ethiopia and Sudan over the Renaissance Dam – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

On Tuesday, the Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs presented new conditions for returning to the Renaissance Dam negotiations with Ethiopia and Egypt, while suggesting the possibility of resorting to other options in the future.

Sudanese Foreign Minister Omar Gamar Eddine Ismail did not explain the nature of his country’s conditions for returning to the negotiations table, but he confirmed that the proposal was: “Presented to the state of South Africa as head of the current session of the African Union assembly, with the aim of holding meaningful talks on the issue.”

Minister Gamar Eddine Ismail expressed his hope that: “The new session of the African Union assembly, scheduled for next February, will present another opportunity to achieve Sudan’s aspirations, otherwise Khartoum will resort to other options regarding this file.”

This comes after the Sudanese Foreign Ministry announced on Sunday that the negotiating parties failed to reach an acceptable formula to continue the discussions on the Renaissance Dam, stressing that Khartoum would not continue the negotiations, at a time when the South African foreign minister expressed her regret that the Renaissance Dam talks had reached “a dead-end”.

This occurred immediately after the end of a six-party meeting between Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia to discuss the rules for filling and operating the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, attended by the ministers of foreign affairs and the ministers of irrigation from the three countries via video conferencing.

The Sudanese Minister of Irrigation Yasser Abbas announced in a statement after the session: “We cannot continue this vicious circle of discussions on the Renaissance Dam indefinitely,” stressing that Sunday’s “negotiations on the Renaissance Dam have failed.”

In the same context, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry confirmed on Sunday: “The meeting on the Renaissance Dam file failed to achieve progress due to disagreements on how to resume negotiations.”

The statement also reiterated Cairo’s: “Readiness for effective negotiations to reach a binding agreement on the rules for filling and operating the Renaissance Dam.”

The Ethiopian government stated: “Sudan has rejected a proposal by the African Union to hold a meeting with experts,” pledging to “provide solutions to Sudan’s concerns about the safety of dams, data exchange, and other technical issues.”

The three countries have been engaged in stalled negotiations over the dam for the past nine years, amid mutual accusations between Cairo and Addis Ababa of intransigence and attempting to impose unrealistic solutions.

READ: Egypt hopes US’ Biden engages in Ethiopia dam crisis

Addis Ababa insists on filling the dam even if it does not reach an agreement with Cairo and Khartoum, while the downstream countries demand the need to conclude a tripartite agreement first, in order to ensure that their annual share of the Nile water is not affected.

The faltering negotiations coincided with military tensions on the border between Sudan and Ethiopia after the Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs revealed on Wednesday that an Ethiopian military aircraft crossed the border between Ethiopia and Sudan “in a dangerous and unjustified escalation.”

The border tension is a result of a decades-long conflict over the Al-Fashqa region, which is a land within the international borders of Sudan that has been inhabited by farmers from Ethiopia. However, clashes broke out in the area between forces of the two countries at the end of last year, continuing for weeks.