Egypt Says Latest Round of GERD Talks “Last Chance” Before Second Dam Filling


CAIRO / KINSHASA (Reuters) – The latest meeting between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia on the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam may be the last chance to relaunch talks before it fills up for the second year in a row, Egypt said in a statement on Sunday.

The meeting concludes on Monday in Kinshasa. Previous attempts to come to terms with the gigantic dam Ethiopia is building on the Blue Nile have ended in stalemate.

Ethiopia says the dam is key to its economic development and power generation. Egypt fears it will jeopardize its Nile water supplies, while Sudan is concerned about the safety of the dam and regulating water flows through its own dams and water stations.

Ethiopia has said it will refill the reservoir behind the gigantic hydroelectric dam after seasonal rains begin this summer, a move opposed by both Sudan and Egypt.

“These negotiations represent the last opportunity that the three countries should seize to reach an agreement … before the next flood season,” Egypt’s foreign minister said in a statement.

Last week, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said there would be “inconceivable instability in the region” if Egypt’s water supply were affected by the dam.

Sudan is currently embroiled in a tense border dispute with Ethiopia over the fertile al-Fashqa region, and on Saturday it completed joint military exercises with Egypt.

In a separate statement, Sudan said Ethiopia had raised the stakes in the negotiations by trying to reopen discussions on the distribution of Nile water.

“I invite you all to start over, to open one or many windows of hope,” said Felix Tshisekedi, president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and president of the African Union, who is the mediator of the negotiations.

In March, Sudan welcomed an initiative by the United Arab Emirates to mediate both the dam talks and the border dispute, but has also recently called for the inclusion of the United Nations, the European Union and the United States as mediators.

Report of Nayera Abdallah in Cairo, Hereward Holland in Kinshasa and Khalid Abdelaziz in Khartoum, written by Nafisa Eltahir; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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