Ethiopia Keen to Resume tripartite talks on GERD, Demeke tells AU Chair

ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Demeke Mekonnen has held talks with his Democratic Republic of Congo counterpart, Christophe Lutundula, on the trilateral talks over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

The discussion between the two sides focused on the resumption of the tripartite negotiations on the GERD, which has been held under the leadership of the African Union (AU), according to the Ministry of foreign Affairs.

During Wednesday discussion, Demeke reiterated “Ethiopia’s firm commitment to resuming the AU-led talks over GERD as soon as possible for it’s in the best interest of the three Nile countries.

Demeke said his country “remains grateful for DRC’s unyielding effort to reach an amicable solution to the matter”.

He also expressed Ethiopia’s strong desire for equitable and reasonable water use, noting that the Nile Basin should be a source of cooperation rather than conflict.

He said the previous trilateral negotiations had yielded tangible results, adding that it would be possible to narrow the differences between the three countries by resuming the negotiation as soon as possible.

DRC’s Foreign Minister, for his part, lauded Ethiopia’s commitment to continue participating in the talks.

Lutundula said the DRC strongly believes in the principle of “African solution to Africa’s problems” which should guide the Renaissance Dam talks that could start shortly.

‘New documents’

Lutundula has brought a file prepared by DRC and AU experts to Addis Ababa as guided by hau president Felix Tshisekedi, and the current chair of the AU, said Dr. Sileshi Bekele, Minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy, who attended the discussion between the two FMS.

“The file is based on the 3 countries’ latest documents with new suggestions by DRC team to narrow diverging points,” the water minister said in a message posted on twitter.

“Ethiopia appreciates the efforts of DRC, will review & get ready for negotiation,” he added.

GERD is the source of an almost decade-long diplomatic standoff between Ethiopia and downstream nations Egypt and Sudan.

Ethiopia says the project is essential to its development, but the governments in Cairo and Khartoum fear it could restrict their citizens’ water access.

The recent trilateral talks failed to produce a breakthrough after Khartoum and Cairo insisted that the observers, EU, US and UN, join the AU as mediators – a move Addis Ababa categorically rejected.

Ethiopia says the observers’ role can be enhanced but the African Union suffices to lead the trilateral negotiation process.