Trilateral Talks over Ethiopian Dam to Resume on Sunday

ADDIS ABEBA – Talks over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) with Sudan and Egypt will resume on Sunday, Ethiopia said.

Previous three-way talks failed to produce an agreement on the filling and operation of the vast reservoir behind the 145-meter tall hydropower Dam.

The three countries will resume their discussion on Sunday under the leadership of the current AU chair, South Africa, said Dina Mufti, spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, during his regular briefing on Tuesday.

Since 2011, the Ethiopian government has pushed ahead with the construction of the GERD on the Blue Nile River. Officials said the dam offers a major opportunity to pull millions Ethiopians out of poverty and become a major power exporter.

The project, which is set to become Africa’s largest hydroelectric power plant, is opposed by Egypt and Sudan over the concerns that the dam will affect their water security.

A source told Sudanese news agency SUNA on Saturday that the latest meeting “will discuss Sudan’s proposal aimed at reactivating the negotiations by giving greater role to the AU experts to reach abiding legal agreement” on the Dam.

Border Spat

Some say the recent border dispute between Ethiopia and Sudan could affect the negotiation – a notion downplayed by the government of Ethiopia.

In a statement issued last Thursday, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said “the historical relations between Ethiopia and Sudan are too deep to be shaken by the desire of conspirators”.

Spokesperson of the foreign ministry reiterated the PM’s stand and said “what has happened in our common boarder recently did not commensurate with the longstanding principle of solidarity and fraternity that existed between the two countries”.

Officials at the Ministry reported earlier this week that they “are observing organized attacks by the Sudanese Military Forces using heavy machine guns and armored convoy” starting from November 9, 2020.

Agricultural products of Ethiopian farmers are looted, their camps are vandalized, and they are also hampered from harvesting their own farms, said the ministry, adding a number of civilians have been murdered and wounded.

The recent incidents are endangering the agreements the two nations have reached “to maintain the status quo in the area north of Mount Dagelish”, according to the government.

“It is our firm position that reactivating the existing mechanisms and finding an amicable solution on settlement and cultivation are the only way to bring lasting solution to the issues in our common border,” Dina said.

“We believe that secularization and unnecessary escalation will only worsen the situation and create pointless tension in the border area and disrupt daily activities of our peoples living in the border area,” he added.

By Mhret G/kristos

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