Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia to trade views at Wednesday’s GERD negotiations

The Egyptian Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation announced that Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia have agreed that each country will present its views during a meeting between irrigation ministers on Wednesday.

This agenda came as a result of the tripartite legal and technical expert committee meetings, which concluded on Tuesday.

The committee’s discussed over two days negotiation methodology during the coming talks, as well as the proposals submitted by the three countries in regards to the conflict.

The current round of tripartite negotiations were called for by South Africa, which serving as the chair for the current session of the African Union.

Egypt has stressed the need to reach a binding legal agreement on filling and operating GERD in a way that achieves the common interests of the three countries and secures their water interests.

Sources familiar with the Nile water dispute said that the current negotiations are facing a number of obstacles.

First and foremost is the inability to agree on how the three countries will settle disputes, as stipulated in the Declaration of Principles signed between heads of the states in 2015.

The absence of a robust, rapid, and compatible mechanism for conflict resolution between the parties may lead to major communication and technical problems.

The sources clarified that Addis Ababa seeks to reach non-binding agreement that allows the heads of each state to use a looser framework to resolve problems as they arise.

Egypt and Sudan, on the other hand, are committed to creating a binding agreement in accordance with the rules of international law and views of the experts of the World Bank, the African Union, and the United States.

Egypt wants to include in the agreement a clause that allows controversial issues to be dealt with by a third party, while Ethiopia believes that third-party actors should only be able to provide guidance.

According to the sources, Ethiopia is stalling to avoid reaching a binding agreement that may restrict its ambitions to build more dams, whether on the Nile or the Atbara and Sobat rivers, which are two rivers that link Ethiopia with other countries.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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