Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan have agreed to continue talks over the disputed Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), and make a deal by 15 January 2020.
Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said in a Wednesday evening statement that the meetings held in Washington under the US mediation “were positive.”
The Washington talks are expected to set a clear and specific timetable for four urgent technical meetings between irrigation ministers of Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan, as well as representatives of the World Bank and the US to reach an agreement over the operating and filling of the GERD’s reservoir by January, Shoukry said.
This process will include two meetings in Washington involving the US Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin to “evaluate the progress of these negotiations,” Shoukry highlighted.
Meanwhile, the Ethiopian state-run news agency reported that the three foreign ministers “agreed to attend two meetings in Washington on 9 December 2019 and 13 January 2020, to assess the progress of talks.”
US President Donald Trump said earlier on Wednesday that he received top representatives from Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan to” help solve their long-running dispute on the GERD,” which he described as “one of the largest in the world.”
“The meeting went well and discussions will continue during the day,” Trump tweeted.
The Washington meeting came upon the US administration’s invitation after Egypt urged an international mediation to help in reaching a fair and binding agreement that protects its water rights in the River Nile.
Egypt depends on the Nile for more than about 70% of its water supply, in drinking, industry, and agriculture. Egypt is concerned that the GERD will shrink its share of Nile water and cause “harms” to its people.
The dispute is mainly about the filling and operating of the GERD’s reservoir. Egypt suggested the period to be seven years, while Ethiopia wants it to be only three years, according to the state-run newspaper Al-Ahram.
Ethiopia’s Foreign Ministry said that Egypt requires a minimum release of 40bn cubic metre of water from the GERD every year, while Ethiopia wants it to be 35bn cubic metre, Reuters reported last month.