Sudan's Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources said on Monday that Ethiopia does not have strong arguments to oppose mediation by the proposed Quartet over the Renaissance Dam, Anadolu has reported. Yasser Abbas made his comments on the fringe of events to mark World Water Day, 22 March, which were broadcast on state television.
Earlier this month Sudan proposed that the UN, the US, the EU, and the African Union should mediate on the issue. The proposal was backed by Egypt.
"Ethiopia cannot justify the rejection of mediation," said Abbas. "We have been insisting on giving the African Union's experts a chance to bridge the gap between the disputing parties, but Addis Ababa refused to do it." This was, he added, a surprise. "We believe that this proposal is excellent for bridging divergent views."
The Sudanese official called on Ethiopia to accept the principle of mediation to reach a fair, legal, and binding agreement on the Renaissance Dam, meet the requirements of the three countries — Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan — and prioritise cooperation over the dispute.
According to the official Ethiopian News Agency, on Saturday a member of the Ethiopian negotiating team, Ibrahim Idris, described Quartet mediation as, "A trick aimed at hindering the second filling of the reservoir behind the dam."
Last Thursday, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry expressed its regret over Ethiopian officials' use of "the language of sovereignty" in their recent statements about the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. The ministry stressed that international rivers such as the Nile are the "common property of riparian countries" and no one can extend sovereignty over them.
Ethiopia insists on filling the reservoir in July, even if it does not reach an agreement with Cairo and Khartoum. The latter are sticking to the position of the need for a tripartite agreement first, in order to preserve their annual share of water from the River Nile.