Tripartite Dam Talks to Continue in Washington Today

ADDIS ABEBA – Water and foreign ministers of Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt have started their meeting on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam in Washington today.

The meeting is expected to “review results so far by the legal and technical teams of Ethiopia negotiating with Egypt and Sudan” the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, said Dr. Seleshi Bekele, Ethiopia’s Minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy, in a twitted message.

He said, the “number of articles and issues are not yet resolved, negotiation continues”.

The meeting is a follow up of the discussion that was held in Washington end of last Jan in the presence of U.S. Secretary of Treasury and World Bank’s president.

The countries have been at odds over the filling and operation of the $4 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), under construction near Ethiopia’s border with Sudan on the Blue Nile, which flows into the Nile River.

The three regional powers convened twice in Washington to complete an agreement last month, but negotiations dragged into February.

“We, the Ethiopian team, continue to work vigilantly in advancing our national (interest),” said Dr. Seleshi.

According to a joint statement with the United States and the World Bank, the three nations have so far agreed on a schedule for staged filling of the dam.

The nations still have to finalize several aspects of the dam, including its safety and provisions for the resolution of disputes, the statement said.

But it added that a final agreement on the dam would be signed by all three countries by the end of February.

The United States has hosted several rounds of talks in Washington with ministers from the three regional powers and the World Bank after years of trilateral negotiations failed.

U.S. President Donald Trump, in a call with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed last week, expressed optimism that an agreement on the dam was near and would benefit all parties involved, a White House spokesman said.

The dam is the centerpiece in Ethiopia’s bid to become Africa’s biggest power exporter but has sparked fears in Cairo that it would be further restricted.

Addis Ababa denies the dam – which is now more than 70% complete – will undermine Egypt’s access to water.

Filling of the dam will start at the end of this year and will be completed within 4-7 years.

GERD is scheduled to be fully completed in 2023.