Egypt confirms participation in Tuesday’s talks over Ethiopia’s dam

Water flows through Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam as it undergoes construction work on the river Nile in Guba Woreda, Benishangul Gumuz Region, Ethiopia

On Monday, Egypt confirmed that it would participate in a tripartite video ministerial meeting between Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan over the Ethiopian grand hydropower dam built over the Nile River, said the Egyptian water ministry in a statement.

Arranged by South Africa, the current chair of the African Union, the meeting will be held to resume negotiations over the rules of filling and operating the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), said Mohamed al-Sebai, spokesman of Egypt’s Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation, in the statement.

Egypt’s Al-Ahram official news website quoted Cairo sources as saying the trilateral virtual meeting, which will involve the foreign and water ministers of the three states, will be held on Tuesday.

“Egypt is ready to negotiate earnestly for the success of these talks in order to reach a fair and balanced agreement that meets the interests of the three countries,” Sebai said.

U.S. President Donald Trump recently blamed Ethiopia for the failure of previous negotiations over the GERD.

“It’s a hazardous situation because Egypt is not going to be able to live that way,” Trump told Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok in a phone call, saying Egypt may “end up blowing up the Dam.”

Ethiopia summoned the U.S. ambassador over Trump’s remarks.

Earlier in October, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi held talks in Cairo with his Kenyan counterpart Uhuru Kenyatta on the disputed dam. Later in mid-October, he received a phone call from South African President Cyril Ramaphosa over the issue.

Ethiopia started building the GERD in 2011, while Egypt is concerned that the dam might affect its 55.5-billion-cubic-meter annual share of Nile water. Sudan has recently been raising similar concerns over the 4-billion-U.S.-dollar dam.

Over the past few years, tripartite talks on the rules of filling and operating the GERD, with a total capacity of 74 billion cubic meters, have been fruitless, including those hosted by Washington and recently by the African Union.

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