Sudanese PM to visit Egypt, Ethiopia to resume GERD talks

Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok said on Monday that he would visit Egypt and Ethiopia soon to resume negotiations over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

Hamdok made the announcement during a phone call with US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, during which he extended his condolences to Mnuchin over the rising cases of coronavirus in the United States.

A statement from the Sudanese Prime Minister’s office said that Hamdok conveyed to the American side his intention to visit Cairo and Addis Ababa soon to urge the two sides to resume negotiations over the GERD and reach an agreement on the remaining points of contention between the two countries.

Hamdok agreed with the American side that the negotiation process in Washington had made great progress, and the two sides agreed on the need to continue negotiating after the world overcomes the coronavirus pandemic, which has infected at least 730,000 worldwide and killed another 34,000.

Meanwhile, the Ethiopian Minister of Foreign Affairs Gedu Andargachew reportedly commented this month that his country is preparing a solution to its dispute with Egypt over the GERD and will submit it to Egypt and Sudan as soon as possible.

He said that Ethiopia is committed to resolving the GERD dispute and demanded that discussions must be “fair” and “serious” in order for Ethiopia to return to the negotiating table under the auspices of the United States.

Earlier in March, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi met in Cairo with the Deputy Head of Sudan’s Transitional Military Council Mohammad Hamdan Dagalo.

During the meeting, they reviewed the latest developments related to the contentious dam, in light of an agreement reached in Washington earlier this year and signed only by Egypt.

Egypt took part in the latest GERD meeting in Washington on February 27 and 28, which produced a final agreement regarding filling and operating the GERD.

Representatives from Addis Ababa were noticeably absent from the meeting, and only Egypt has signed the agreement so far. Sudan has also abstained from signing the agreement to fill and operate the GERD.

Ethiopia has also warned that it would begin filling the dam in July without signing an agreement. Construction is not due to be finished until 2023.

Egypt’s Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Water Resources has rejected Ethiopia’s plan to fill the reservoir of the GERD before construction work is finished and regardless of whether an agreement has been reached with downstream countries.

Egypt relies considerably on fresh water from the Nile and has voiced concerns that the GERD would negatively impact the country’s water supply, especially in light of overpopulation fears, and has thus insisted throughout negotiations that measures be put in place to protect downstream countries in case of drought during the filling process at the dam.

Image: In this Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2019 file photo, Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok speaks during a press conference in Khartoum, Sudan (AP Photo, File)

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