Ethiopia wants Sudan to host tripartite dam talks with Egypt

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Addis Ababa, 16 July 2014 (WIC) - The Ethiopian government said Tuesday it had proposed the third week of August for holding tripartite talks with Sudan and Egypt to discuss Ethiopia's multibillion-dollar hydroelectric Nile dam project, suggesting that the meeting be held in Sudan.

"Sudan is a suitable venue for the resumption of tripartite talks because it has hosted previous meetings successfully and has good experience," Fekahmed Negash, director-general of boundary and trans-boundary rivers at Ethiopia's Water Ministry, told Anadolu Agency.

Earlier this month, Cairo said it had offered to host tripartite talks in mid-July.

The invitation came after Egypt and Ethiopia agreed – on the sidelines of last month's African summit in Equatorial Guinea – to resume talks on the Ethiopian mega-dam. Ethiopia, however, rebuffed the invitation.

"Ethiopia cannot agree to Cairo's proposal because the issue needs preparation," Fekahmed said. "We sent our proposal to Egypt and Sudan yesterday; we expect a positive response from both."

Set up in 2011, a tripartite technical committee was tasked with studying the impact of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the two downstream states. The committee's activities, however, were suspended in January.

According to Fekahmed, the committee will "pick up where it left off at the time of its disruption, which is the formation of a committee for conducting two proposed studies."

The two proposed studies, he said, involved a hydrology simulation model and a trans-boundary social, economic and environmental impact assessment.

"The committee will comprise members drawn from all the three countries... who will select contractors to conduct the two studies," he explained.

Ethiopia says the dam is necessary for its national development plans. It insists the project won't impact Egypt's share of Nile water, which has long been determined by a colonial-era water-sharing treaty that Addis Ababa has never acknowledged. (Middle East Monitor)