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US says to remain engaged with Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan on GERD after no deal from brokered talks
Published in Ahram Online on 29 - 02 - 2020

The United States said it would remain engaged with Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan until a final agreement on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) is signed as Washington failed to seal signatures from the three countries this week, US Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin said.
Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan were expected to sign a final deal on the disputed dam this week, however Addis Ababa said it would not take part in what was due to be the final round of talks to resolve the years-long crisis.
According to a statement by the US Treasury, Mnuchin participated in separate bilateral meetings with the foreign affairs and water resources ministers of Egypt and Sudan.
The ministers provided their comments on the agreement, which the US described as one that “addresses all issues in a balanced and equitable manner, taking into account the interests of the three countries”.
Last year, the US Treasury intervened to facilitate talks between Egypt and Sudan as tensions over the under-construction dam as talks ended in deadlock.
The three countries had agreed to entrust the US with preparing an agreement on the filling and operation of the GERD based on provisions proposed by the legal and technical teams of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan and with the technical input of the World Bank.
Mnuchin said he is looking forward to Ethiopia finalizing its national consultations “as soon as possible to provide for the signing of the agreement at the earliest possible time”, after Egypt initialed the agreement as a sign of commitment.
“Consistent with the principles set out in the DOP, and in particular the principles of not causing significant harm to downstream countries, final testing and filling should not take place without an agreement,” Mnuchin stressed.
Ethiopia hopes that the massive $4.8 billion megaproject on the Blue Nile, which has been under construction since 2011, will allow it to become Africa's largest power exporter.
Cairo fears the dam will diminish its water supply from the Nile, on which it relies for the vast majority of its fresh water.
The statement also noted the concern of downstream countries Egypt and Sudan due to unfinished work on the safe operation of the GERD, and the need to implement all necessary dam safety measures in accordance with international standards before filling begins.
Egypt said it looks forward to Ethiopia and Sudan taking the lead of approving the agreement and signing it “as soon as possible”, describing the deal as one that is “fair, balanced, and achieves the three countries interests”.
Cairo reaffirmed its appreciation to the role carried out by the US and its keenness on a final deal, regretting Ethiopia's “unjustified absence” of the meeting at a critical stage.


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