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Sudan, Egypt Optimistic on Nile Dam Deal with Ethiopia

By Michael Atit August 17, 2020

Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia have agreed to present draft proposals on how to manage Addis Ababa's controversial Nile hydroelectric dam by Tuesday according to Sudan's water ministry.

In a Sunday statement the ministry said, "After lengthy discussions, the attendees decided to resume negotiations ... to work on unifying the texts of the agreements submitted by the three countries."

The decision was announced amid talks led by the African Union (AU) between water and foreign ministers from the three countries about the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly and his Sudanese counterpart Abdalla Hamdok, who met in Khartoum over the weekend, expressed their support for the AU-led negotiations over the Ethiopian dam and water rights.

Sudan and Egypt agree that negotiating with Ethiopia is the only way to resolve disputes over the dam, but Sudan warned Egypt against making any "unilateral procedures" without consulting with Khartoum first, said Sudan information minister Faisal Mohammed Saleh.

"The two sides also reiterated their commitment to the negotiation as the only means in achieving the interest of the people in this region and they are confident towards success of the current intervention of the African Union in the talks," Saleh said.

Hamdok and Madbouly outlined principals that could help during the African Union-sponsored talks, according to Saleh, such as "just usage of the Nile without causing any damage on any side, based on the related international law."

The $4 billion dam on the Blue Nile River has been a point of contention between the three countries since Ethiopia broke ground on the project in 2011.

A number of mediators including officials from the Trump administration have tried and failed to come up with a solution.

Acting Sudanese Foreign Minister Omar Ismail Gamardin told the Sudan News Agency a final draft agreement is in the works.

"We are expecting consultants from the African Union to help the three countries in drafting the agreement," he said.

Egypt and Sudan, which insist that Ethiopia not fill the reservoir until a deal is reached, view the dam as a threat to their vital water supplies, while Ethiopia considers the dam crucial to its plans for economic development.

The dispute came to a head in July, when Ethiopia announced it had finished the first stage of filling the dam's 74 billion cubic-meter reservoir.

Carol Van Dam Falk contributed to this report.

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