Ethiopia, Egypt agree to ‘immediately’ resume tripartite talks

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Addis Ababa, 28 June 2014 (WIC) – Ethiopia and Egypt have agreed to ‘immediately’ resume the activities of the tripartite committee on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) following a meeting of leaders of the two countries.

Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and Egypt’s new president Abdel Fattah El Sisi on Thursday held talks in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea on the sidelines of the African Union Summit.

The two leaders are said to have discussed on a wide range of bilateral issues with Nile water dominating the discussion.

A communiqué issued after the talks revealed that the two countries agreed to ‘respect the principles of dialogue and cooperation as a foundation for mutual interests.’

Relations between Ethiopia and Egypt soured following the launch of the 6000MW Renaissance Dam on the trans-boundary Nile River.

Ethiopia and two of the downstream countries, Sudan and Egypt, set up a tripartite committee to discuss ways to implement recommendations put forth by international panel of experts, who studied the benefits and impact of the hydroelectric dam. However, after three rounds of talks, the discussions ended in stalemate when Egypt walked out.

Over the past few months, however, relations between Ethiopia and Egypt are showing signs of improvement with both countries hailing recent developments as ‘a new chapter in Ethio-Egyptian relations’.

“Resuming immediately the activities of the tripartite committee on the Grand Renaissance Dam to enforce recommendations of the international expert committee and respecting the results of studies to be conducted during the dam project's different phases,” read the communiqué.

The Ethiopian government ‘commits to avoiding any possible harm the dam could inflict on Egypt's water usage’ while its Egyptian counterpart committed to constructive dialogue with Ethiopia that takes into consideration the latter’s development needs.

Both countries also agreed to respect international law principles and give priority to establishing regional projects to develop financial resources to meet the growing demand on water and face water shortages.