Renaissance dam talks approach agreement on some points - sources

Monday 28-12-2015 02:36 PM
Renaissance dam talks approach agreement on some points - sources

Labourers work at the Grand Renaissance dam in Guba Woreda, Benishangul Gumuz region March 16, 2014. Egypt fears the $4.7 billion dam, that the Horn of Africa nation is building on the Nile, will reduce a water supply vital for its 84 million people, who mostly live in the Nile valley and delta. Picture taken March 16, 2014. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri


CAIRO, Dec. 28 (Aswat Masriya) - Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan are nearing agreements on some points connected to the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, sources said on Monday.  

Six-way talks between the foreign and water ministers of the three countries were held in Khartoum on Sunday and Monday.

Sudanese Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour said after the end of the first session today that an evening session will also be held and that in case no consensus is reached, a new round of talks will be held in Khartoum in two weeks.

But sources say there are signs that the three countries are agreeing on several points, including choosing an alternative office to run technical studies on the effects of the dam after a Dutch firm pulled back.

The sources add that the three countries are also seeing eye to eye on reducing the time used to conduct the study from 11 to nine months and to try out a "pilot storage" of three million cubic meters of Nile water, an amount that is not expected to have an effect on Egypt's share of water.

A round of six-way talks had been held earlier this month but the two-days talks ended without an agreement on the technical aspects of the Ethiopian dam, currently under construction. The trio agreed to hold a new round on Dec. 27 - 28.

Egypt's state news agency MENA said the ongoing talks are taking place amid the "insistence of the negotiating parties to reach positive results."

The three states are hoping to achieve their aspirations for sustainable development "without damaging the water capabilities of one state at the expense of another," MENA said.

The trio has held more than 10 rounds of talks over the past two years as Egypt seeks assurances that the hydroelectric dam will not reduce its share of Nile water.

Egyptian state and private newspapers ran front page headlines on the talks this morning reflecting an uneasy mood, with the state run Al-Akhbar accusing the Ethiopian delegation of creating a crisis and the private Al-Shorouk saying Ethiopia was "drowning" the declaration of principles.

Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan signed the declaration, a preliminary agreement on the Ethiopian dam on Mar. 23, during a meeting of the trio's top leadership in the Sudanese capital.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said at the time of the signing that his country will not accept that any harm is caused to the Nile river downstream countries, "specifically, the Egyptian people."

According to MENA, the talks on Sunday featured closed sessions in which the three countries discussed "interpretations" of some articles in the declaration of principles.  

For decades, Egypt has been receiving 55 billion cubic meters of the Nile river's water annually, the largest share, as per agreements signed in the past century in the absence of Ethiopia, whose Blue Nile tributary supplies most the water. 

Once an agricultural state, Egypt relies on the Nile river as its main source of water but Ethiopia believes it is entitled to using the water for development, by creating electricity using the dam. The two countries have reiterated multiple times that they will not harm each other's interests, which seem to conflict. 

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