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Sisi: Egypt exerts balanced efforts in talks on Ethiopia’s dam

CAIRO – 21 October 2019: “At his meeting with the representatives of the delegations participating in the second edition of Cairo Water Week 2019, President Sisi affirmed Egypt is exerting determined and balanced efforts to overcome the stumble in the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam’s negotiations,” said Presidential Spokesperson Bassam Radi on Monday.

President Abdel Fatah al- Sisi voiced his aspiration to reach an agreement that bears the common interests of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia into account, Radi added.

Egypt and Ethiopia are at loggerheads over the $4-billion dam; Cairo voiced concern over its water share after Ethiopia started building the dam on the Blue Nile in May 2011.

A series of tripartite talks between the two countries along with Sudan began in 2014. One year later, the three countries signed the Declaration of Principles, per which the downstream countries [Egypt and Sudan] should not be negatively affected by the construction of the dam. However, Cairo and Addis Ababa have recently blamed each other for hindering a final agreement concerning a technical problem.

President Sisi also tackled Egypt’s pivotal strategy concerning the water sector, and discussed various experiences for the development of water resources and irrigation, Radi continued, adding that the president welcomed the participating delegations.

President Sisi praised the 2019 round of the CWW, which comes under the theme “Responding to Water Scarcity”. The Forum’s sub-sessions tackle themes of Research and Innovation in facing water scarcity; non-conventional water resource use; Cooperation in Water Sector; and Climate Change Impacts, Mitigation, and Adaptation.

The first edition of the CWW convened in October 2018 under the auspices of President Sisi in a way to increase public awareness of water rationalization for the sustainable development amid a state of water shortage.

Egyptian Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Mohamed Abdel Atti said on Sunday that Egypt has provided all possible solutions to end the disagreement with Ethiopia over the controversial Renaissance dam.

He continued that Egypt is a desert land and approximately 100 million people depend on the Nile water, saying “The gap between water consumption and production has reached 90 percent.”

In his speech at the 5-day forum on Sunday, Prime Minister Madbouli said Egypt is facing a major challenge in reaching a fair agreement with Ethiopia. “The environmental and hydrological studies of the dam have not been carried out yet, and we hope that consultant firms finish them,” said Madbouli.

“It was agreed to take an unofficial path with an independent scientific group, which was formed by representatives of the three countries [Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan], but we did not see any significant progress,” the prime minister continued.

Madbouli highlighted the need for coordination in case any dam is built on the Nile, clarifying that according to Article 10 of the Declaration of Principles signed in 2015, an international mediator shall intervene in the negotiations.

On October 5, 2019, Cairo asked for international mediation in the tripartite negotiations on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD); however, Addis Ababa rejected.

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