CAIRO: Amid tense political relations between Egypt and Ethiopia, Cairo resumed Renaissance Dam negotiations on Sunday.
A meeting was held between Sameh Shoukry, minister of foreign affairs, and Mohamed Abdel Aty, minister of irrigation and water resources, and their Sudanese and Ethiopian counterparts.
Egyptian diplomatic sources said that the African Union had invited Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan to participate in a new Renaissance Dam negotiation session.
Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said an agreement needs to be reached before the second filling of the massive dam’s reservoir.
A few days ago, the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned the Ethiopian Chargé d’Affaires, protesting that Ethiopia is building on the Blue Nile and said that it is using the project as a pretext to cover up many internal problems.
The Ethiopian official claimed that there is an agenda that outweighs the Renaissance Dam crises, and that Egyptian officials are looking to depict Ethiopia as a danger that will cause Egyptians to thirst and starve.
The three countries have held several rounds of talks since Ethiopia began implementing the project in 2011, but have so far failed to reach an agreement on filling and operating the huge reservoir behind the 145-meter-long dam.
The last round of negotiations, held by videoconference, ended in early November without any progress.
The official Sudanese News Agency SUNA stated that officials from South Africa, which currently holds the presidency of the African Union, will participate in the
latest round of talks.
The agency said that, according to an unnamed official, Sudan would propose giving the African Union experts a greater role in negotiations to reach a binding agreement on filling and operating the dam.
In mid-December, Ethiopia and Sudan agreed to resume negotiations, during a short visit by Sudanese Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok to Ethiopia.
The EU called on the parties negotiating the project to take advantage of the opportunity of the upcoming meeting, calling for a show of political desire to engage in constructive talks.
“The resumption of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam talks is an important opportunity to make progress toward agreement on filling the dam and related operations,” the EU’s statement said.
It added that the resumption of negotiations will secure the livelihood of millions of people who live in the Nile Basin, and who depend on the agreement to create favorable conditions for investment and economic growth.
The union said that, as an observer of the talks, it encourages all parties to demonstrate the political will to enter this round of talks in a constructive and open spirit.