Ethiopia, Egypt ‘agree’ to resume tripartite talks

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Addis Ababa, 10 June 2014 (WIC) – Ethiopia and Egypt have agreed to resume tripartite talks regarding the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) said.

Foreign minister Tedros Adhanom, who led a delegation to Cairo to attend the inaugural of Abdel-Fattah El Sisi, on Monday met with Egypt’s new president where the two officials held a ‘candid discussion’.

“We agreed to reactivate the tripartite…technical dialogue and to complement it with high level political consultations,” Tedros wrote on his official facebook page following his meeting with El Sisi.

Relations between Ethiopia and Egypt soared following the launching of the construction GERD, a hydroelectric dam being built on the Nile River. The two countries and Sudan began a tripartite discussion to implement a recommendation put forth by international experts who assessed the impacts and benefits of the dam. However, three rounds of talks ended in a stalemate.

The meeting between Tedros and El Sisi came a day after the latter’s inauguration as president of Egypt in which he vowed to ease tensions with Ethiopia.

“I will not allow the Renaissance Dam to cause a crisis or problem with sisterly Ethiopia," El Sisi said in his inaugural speech which Ethiopia welcomed.

“Ethiopia appreciates these positive messages and we assure President El Sisi and Egyptian brothers and sisters that we believe the same. We are determined to take our relationship with Egypt to a higher level by building trust and confidence. If there's a will there is a way,” Tedros wrote on Sunday.

Egypt abandoned the tripartite talks in March 2014 after a third round of meeting in Sudan. The country insisted on the establishment of independent international experts parallel to a joint commission agreed to be set up by the three countries. Both Ethiopia and Sudan, another downstream country which has officially backed the GERD, disagreed.

“If Egypt is serious about resuming the tripartite discussion, we expect them to communicate us in about a week,” Fekahmed Negash, boundary and transboundary rivers affairs director at the Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy, told WIC when asked about whether a date has been set for a fourth round of talks.

The 6000 MW Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, whose construction began in April 2011, is scheduled to be completed in 2017. Ethiopia plans to export a portion of the electricity the dam generates to neighboring countries.