Egypt denies demanding Sudan exclusion from dam talks with Ethiopia

al-Sisi-al-Bashir-Hailemariam
Egyptian president Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi (L), Sudanese president Omer al-Bashir (C) and Ethiopian prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn shake hands during a meeting in Khartoum on 23 March 2015 on the planned Grand Renaissance dam (Photo: Ashraf Shazly/AFP)

The Egyptian government denied it seeks to hold bilateral talks with Ethiopia on the disputed Renaissance Dam in a way to exclude Sudan from the discussions on the Blue Nile water shares.

Following a meeting in Addis Ababa with his Ethiopian counterpart On 26 December, the Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry proposed to include the World Bank in the tripartite discussions on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) at the level of the technical committee.

By the end of 2017, The Addis Fortune, an Ethiopian newspaper disclosed that Shoukry proposed also to exclude Sudan from the talks.

The proposition came after the failure of a technical meeting held in Cairo last November to agree on a report prepared by two French consulting firms.

Cairo wants separate technical talks because Addis Ababa refuses to acknowledge the 1959 agreement just like its rejection of the Nile water treaty of 1929, the newspaper explained.

It further cited a statement to the press by the Egyptian top diplomat saying that “The case Egypt has with Sudan is completely different with Ethiopia’s case, and it is necessary to differentiate the two”.

But the Egyptian foreign ministry on Tuesday denied that the Egyptian minister had proposed to exclude Sudan from the process, stressing they wanted to include the World Bank for its expertise.

“The Egyptian proposal to request the participation of the World Bank as a neutral party in the negotiations of the Tripartite Technical Committee was also officially submitted to the Sudanese government,” said Ahmed Abu Zeid the spokesperson of the Egyptian foreign ministry.

“Egypt is waiting for both Ethiopia and Sudan to respond to the proposal in as soon as possible,” Abu Zeid further added.

The Egyptian diplomat called on the media to be cautious against publishing false information poiting that Minister Shoukry told reporters in Addis Ababa about Egypt’s intention to submit the World Bank participation proposal to Sudan within days.

Following the failure of the Cairo meeting last November, the Sudanese water resources who represented his country in the meeting said they reject the French study because it ignored the baseline and the terms of reference (ToR) the French consulting firms had to observe in their report.

According to the Sudanese side, the two firms, BRL and Artelia, in their study on the GERD impact on Egypt and Sudan didn’t observe the 1959 agreement between Sudan and Egypt over the Nile water based on the 1929 treaty.

In line with the bilateral deal, Egypt has the right to 55.5 billion cubic meters of Nile water a year and Sudan 18.5 billion cubic meters per year. But in fact Sudan does not use its share.

However, Sudanese officials say the dam will allow the full use of Sudan’s share.

(ST)

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