The eleventh meeting of the tripartite committee on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) began Sunday in Khartoum with the participation of the Irrigation and Foreign ministers of Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia.
Sudanese Minister of Water Resources and Electricity Moataz Mosa said in press statements to the official news agency (SUNA) Saturday that the meeting will resume talks from on the previous meeting. The three sides all care to reach an agreement through negotiations to fulfill common interests of the three countries.
Before the meeting began, Ethiopia announced the diversion of the Blue Nile’s course to run through the dam after construction of the first four water inlets was completed.
In response, Egyptian Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Hossam El-Din Moghazi said this is a normal step since it is part of the Ethiopian construction operations. The course was diverted two years ago to begin constructions and it has now been diverted again to its original course. He said this step does not have to do with the tripartite meeting and that re-diverting the Nile’s course allows the water to pass beneath the dam for the first time.
Sudanese Foreign Minister Ibrahim Al-Ghandour announced that Ethiopia began diverting the Nile River 36 days ago.
During the opening session, Al-Ghandour said the meeting is a completion to the previous meetings. He said the three sides are aware of the importance of these meetings since they touched upon a crucial issue of national security.
“Our leaders and people are waiting for us today to reach an agreements to utilize the Nile,” he said.
Ethiopian Water Resources and Irrigation Minister Twadros Adhanom stressed Ethiopia’s commitment to strengthen cooperation with Egypt and Sudan, calling for transparency and honesty to reach an agreement.
“We are meeting for the second time in two weeks. This shows our commitment to our cooperation and partnership. We have a historic and old partnership since we are connected with the Nile,” he said. Ethiopia is committed to enhance cooperation among the three sides and he confirmed that they would reach an agreement.
Shoukry met with Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir during his visit to Khartoum and transferred an oral message from Egyptian President Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi. The message stressed mutual strategic cooperation as well as Egypt’s commitment towards the Sudanese government.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid said Shoukry tried informing Al-Bashir of the updates on the talks held on the tripartite meeting. He stressed the importance of the declaration of the three principles that was signed, considered the basis for fulfilling the interests of three sides without any negative effects.
Abu Zeid said the meeting included discussions to prepare to establish the Egyptian Sudanese mutual Higher Committee and assignments directed to the two foreign ministries. They discussed completing all preparatory work and the planned files addressed during the committee’s work as soon as possible. The next session of the Commission would be a radical change in bilateral relations and the level of cooperation between the two countries.
Shoukry also met Adhanom after the opening session ended and stressed during this meeting that the Nile River is matter of existence to Egypt, which desires to cooperate and commit to the principles signed last March.
Political Sciences Professor and deputy manager of the Sudanese Centre at the African Research Institute, Cairo University and the African-Arab issues expert Ayman Shabana told Daily News Egypt that this round of talks at the meeting will not result in any positive achievement, contending that Ethiopia is not fully committed to the resolution process as its decision to build the dam is non negotiable. For Shabana, the position represents a wider intransigence on the part of the Ethiopian government as also evinced by its instance that meeting be held in Khartoum or Ethiopia.
“The Nile is the backbone of Egypt,” he said, noting that he does not expect that they will reach an agreement in this meeting and the talks would lead to failure.
Former minister of irrigation and water resources Mohamed Nasr El-Din Allam further conceded to Shabana’s expectations, telling Daily News Egypt the negotiations of this meeting will not lead to any agreements or a clear deal.
Allam expects that Ethiopia will build the dam prior to the expected completion of the technical study by the beginning of June.
“It will begin phase one, which is a violation of the principles that were signed in March,” Allam said.
Allam thereby proposed that Egypt involve the African Union’s organisations, and for the Security Council to tackle the situation as a next step.
“The real way is that Egypt must internationalise the issue in order to find a prompt solution and Egypt could protect itself from the threat of water scarcity,” Allam said.