Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan aim to resolve dam dispute by Jan. 15

The ministers said they would attend further meetings in Washington on Dec. 9 and Jan. 13 to assess progress in their negotiations.
Thursday 07/11/2019
Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam is seen as it undergoes construction work on the river Nile in Guba Woreda, Benishangul Gumuz Region, Ethiopia September 26, 2019. (Reuters)
Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam is seen as it undergoes construction work on the river Nile in Guba Woreda, Benishangul Gumuz Region, Ethiopia September 26, 2019. (Reuters)

Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry says the Nile water dispute between his country and Ethiopia should be resolved by mid-January.

Shoukry released a statement on Thursday after US-mediated talks with his Ethiopian and Sudanese counterparts that were held the previous day in Washington.

The talks aim to ease tensions among the three key Nile Basin countries — Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia — over Ethiopia's massive dam on the Blue Nile, which Egypt fears can affect its water supply.

Shoukry says a timetable has been set for negotiations and that another two meetings will be held in the US over the next two months to assess progress.

Last month, talks between the two countries collapsed, which prompted Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sissi to call on the US to mediate the dispute

The foreign ministers of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan had agreed on Wednesday to work toward resolving their dispute over the filling and operation of a massive dam project in Ethiopia by Jan. 15, 2020, the US Treasury said.

In a joint statement released after US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin hosted talks to work out differences over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, the ministers said they would attend further meetings in Washington on Dec. 9 and Jan. 13 to assess progress in their negotiations.

"The ministers reaffirmed their joint commitment to reach a comprehensive, cooperative, adaptive, sustainable, and mutually beneficial agreement on the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam and to establish a clear process for fulfilling that commitment in accordance with the 2015 Declaration of Principles," the ministers, Mnuchin and World Bank President David Malpass said in the statement.

"If an agreement is not reached by January 15, 2020, the foreign ministers agree that Article 10 of the 2015 Declaration of Principles will be invoked," the statement said.

Such a move would require an international mediator to help resolve the dispute.

Earlier, US President Donald Trump said a meeting that he held with the Egyptian, Ethiopian and Sudanese delegations "went well."

In their joint statement, the foreign ministers of the three African countries "reaffirmed the significance of the Nile to the development of the people of Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan, the importance of transboundary cooperation, and their shared interest in concluding an agreement."

(News agencies)