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Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan Should Tackle ‘Difficult’ Renaissance Dam Obstacles

Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan Should Tackle ‘Difficult’ Renaissance Dam Obstacles

Monday, 20 January, 2020 - 07:15
The Nile dam under construction. (Reuters)
Cairo - Mohammed Abdo Hassanein

Representatives from Cairo, Addis Ababa and Khartoum are set to meet in the coming days in another attempt to finalize an agreement aimed at clearing the way for the filling and operation of the Renaissance Dam project on the Nile River, in a way that should not harm downstream countries, Egypt and Sudan.


Despite the announced progress in talks over the project, thanks to Washington’s mediation, some difficult obstacles remain and require the three parties to show milder stances before they reach a final deal.


Following lengthy talks in Washington last week, Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan said they reached a preliminary understanding over the dam, and have agreed to meet on January 28 and 29 in the US capital to remove all remaining obstacles hindering the implementation of the project.


Those issues include an agreement on the entire stages of filling, the rules of operation, drought-related standards and Egypt’s historic share of the Nile River.


In the interim period, Khartoum would host on Wednesday and Thursday a “technical and legal” meeting of the three countries to prepare a primary draft of the agreement.


Meanwhile, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi received on Sunday a US pledge that the dam talks would be positive and fair.


Sisi met in Berlin with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who stressed his country's interest and keenness on the success of the negotiations with positive and fair outcomes that secure Egypt's rights as well as those of Ethiopia and Sudan. Both officials were in the German capital to attend a peace conference on Libya.


For his part, Sisi expressed appreciation for the American efforts in sponsoring tripartite talks on the dam and the continuation of its role towards developing a comprehensive agreement that preserves Egypt's historical rights to Nile water.


Dr. Hamdy Abdel rahman Hassan, a professor of political science at the Faculty of Economics and Political Science at Cairo University, told Asharq Al-Awsat that despite the remarkable progress reached lately in the dam talks, several disputed points are still left unsolved.


“The next round of technical talks should present a detailed explanation of the hydrological conditions of the Blue Nile water, in addition to the suitable measures that Ethiopia plans to take to reduce any damage against on Egypt and Sudan during drought and prolonged-drought phases,” he explained.


Ethiopia started building the dam on the Blue Nile in 2011 to generate electricity.


Egypt fears that the dam would cause harm to its water share of the Nile.


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