Nile River dam talks resume, but still no agreement

Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan resumed negotiations on filling Ethiopia's mega dam on Friday.

al-monitor A general view of the Blue Nile as it passes through the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), near Guba in Ethiopia, on Dec. 26, 2019.  Photo by EDUARDO SOTERAS/AFP via Getty Images.

Jul 6, 2020

Tripartite negotiations on Ethiopia’s Nile River dam continue without progress toward an agreement. The talks follow a UN Security Council meeting last week on Ethiopia’s planned filling of the dam and opposition from Egypt and Sudan.

Ethiopia wants to fill the massive Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) this month. The dam is on the Blue Nile River, which flows into the Nile. Ethiopia wants the project to supply the country with hydroelectric power and help alleviate poverty, while Egypt and Sudan believe that filling the dam will deplete water levels in the Nile in their countries. The river is a major part of east African economies.

The countries met last week with UN Security Council members to discuss the issue. All three remained steadfast in their positions, while other countries called for the resumption of negotiations that broke down in June.

Talks resumed on Friday following the council session. On Saturday, Egypt’s Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation reported that “… there is no agreement between the three countries.” The states did agree to continue negotiations on Sunday, according to a ministry press release.

Also according to the Water Resources and Irrigation Ministry, on Sunday Egypt’s negotiating team held a meeting with observers to discuss the matter. The countries’ representatives did not meet with each other on this day. The observers of the negotiations are from the African Union, South Africa, the United States and the European Union.

The Sunday meetings were for each country to meet separately with the observers, according to Egypt’s state-owned Al-Ahram newspaper.

Sudan also said differences remain following the talks on Saturday.

For its part, Ethiopia has remained defiant in its desire to fill the dam amid the continued negotiations.

“To Ethiopians at home & abroad: I urge you to use whatever means at your disposal to let people understand your country’s stand to equitably & reasonably utilize the River Nile water resources in cooperation with other riparian states,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs tweeted on Saturday.

The current talks continue until July 11, according to the Egypt Independent newspaper.

Tensions remain high between the countries. On Friday, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed made a vague claim that the deadly shooting of Ethiopian singer Hachalu Hundessa last week was linked to the tension. “Those external and internal forces who were not successful with the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam issue have tried their utmost efforts to create chaos at this time,” Ahmed said, which could refer to Egypt, according to Agence France Presse.

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