GERD: Tripartite talks hit new stalemate

Negotiations between Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt, in a long-running dispute over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on the Blue Nile, have reached a new impasse, the three countries disclosed on Sunday.

“We cannot continue this vicious cycle of circular talks indefinitely,” Sudanese irrigation minister, Yasir Abbas said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Egypt and Ethiopia in separate statements have blamed Sudanese objections to the framework for the talks, as reason for the new deadlock.

Ethiopia sees the dam as key to plans to become Africa’s largest power exporter. Egypt, which gets more than 90% of its scarce fresh water from the Nile, fears the dam could devastate its economy.

Sudan said on Sunday it was concerned the dam could overwhelm its nearby Roseries dam if an agreement is not reached that would allow the countries to share data.

Ethiopian foreign ministry said in a statement that despite previously insisting on meeting with the African Union experts, Sudan objected to their terms of reference and refused to include the experts in the meeting, effectively halting the talks.

“Sudan insisted on the assigning of African Union experts to offer solutions to contentious issues … a proposal which Egypt and Ethiopia have reservations about,” Egypt’s foreign ministry said in a statement posted on social media.

The prolonged dispute between the three countries has continued even after the reservoir behind the $4 billion dam began filling in July.

Sudan said on its state news agency SUNA, that it objected to what it said was a Jan. 8 letter from Ethiopia to the African Union stating that Ethiopia was determined to fill the reservoir for the second year in July with 13.5 million cubic meters of water, whether an agreement is reached or not.

The Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in its statement streamed on the social media said it “took the initiative immediately to establish an effective and reciprocal data exchange mechanism.”

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