CAIRO: Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry is in Kinshasa for three-day talks about a controversial dam project.
Shoukry, a ministerial delegation from Sudan and other parties are meeting to discuss the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.
He went to the Democratic Republic of the Congo at the invitation of President Felix Tshisekedi, who is hosting the talks.
Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia have been negotiating since 2011 to reach an agreement on filling the multi-billion dollar dam.
Ethiopia hopes the dam will turn it into Africa’s top hydropower supplier, but Egypt and Sudan fear it will substantially reduce their water share and affect development prospects.
“Egypt's keenness to respond to the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s invitation stems from its position calling to launch a serious and effective negotiation process that will result in reaching a binding legal agreement on filling and operating the dam in a manner that takes into account the interests of the three countries,” Shoukry said.
Sudan’s delegation includes Foreign Minister Mariam Al-Sadiq and Irrigation Minister Yasser Abbas. They are seeking to define and agree on the negotiation methodology and paths to ensure constructive negotiations that go beyond previous rounds of talks.
Sudan has proposed the need for international mediation involving the EU, the UN and the US that works under the leadership of the African Union. The aim is to assist the three countries to reach a binding legal agreement on filling and operating the dam that addresses the interests and concerns of all sides.
Earlier this month, Egypt and Sudan urged the Democratic Republic of the Congo to lead efforts to resume negotiations regarding the dam. Tshisekedi assumed the African Union presidency last month.
Egypt has backed Sudan’s proposal to form an international mediation quartet to engage in negotiations with Ethiopia, which has insisted however that the negotiations should only take place under the auspices of the African Union.
Last week Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi warned against compromising the country’s share of Nile waters.
“We are not threatening anyone, but no one can take water from Egypt. Otherwise, the region will witness a state of instability that no one can imagine,” he said.
Also last week, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed confirmed that his country was proceeding with the dam project despite the challenges and would work to turn it into a reality.