Deputy PM holds talks with U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan over GERD

ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopia’s Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen has conferred with the U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan, Donald Booth, over the status of the Dam talks with the lower riparian states.

Demeke, who is also the foreign minister of Ethiopia, received a high-level delegation led by Booth, on Wednesday at his office where the two held discussed the tripartite negotiations of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) and other related issues, according to the Ministry of foreign affairs.

Ethiopia contributes 86% of the water share of the Nile River and yet exploited little of its resources.

Ethiopian officials hope the dam, now more than three-quarters complete, will reach full power-generating capacity in 2023, helping pull millions of its people out of poverty.

Currently, at least 60% of its citizens still live in darkness, Foreign Minister Demeke told the delegation, adding his country aims to change this with the construction of the Renaissance Dam.

During the meeting, Demeke also affirmed Ethiopia’s legal and sovereign right to use the Nile water for development fairly and equitably.

He also said his country Ethiopia has no interest in harming the lower Nile Basin countries – Sudan and Egypt.

Recalling that the trilateral talks had been held to address concerns raised by Sudan and Egypt, he reiterated that Ethiopia has always been committed to resolving issues through negotiations.

He expressed Ethiopia’s interest in sustaining the African Union-led talks under the Chairmanship of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

He also talks to change the modalities of the negotiations should be treated according to the provisions of the Declaration of Principles (DoP) which was signed by the tripartite in 2015.

He also said that Sudan has been provided with information on the security of the dam and the filling of the dam is part of the overall construction project.

Demeke thanked friendly countries for their efforts to make the negotiations successful and maintain peaceful relationships among the countries in the region.

Discussions between the two sides ended with mutual understanding, according to MoFA.