Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia hold Nile River talks

Tuesday May 15 2018

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (L) meets

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (L) meets with Sudanese President Omar Bashir following his arrival in Khartoum for an official visit to Sudan on May 2, 2018. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By ARGAW ASHINE
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Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia Tuesday began another round of talks in Addis Ababa on the controversial Ethiopia mega hydro dam on the River Nile.

The talks are being attended by Foreign and Water ministers, as well as Intelligence officials of each country.

Talks between the three states in the Sudanese capital Khartoum threes week ago failed to break the deadlock.

A win-win deal

Egypt has since blamed both Ethiopia and Sudan for derailing the negotiations.

Egyptian Foreign minister Samah Shoukry said Cairo was getting even more concerned about the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

But Ethiopian government spokesman Meles Alem, said in Addis Ababa that the country had remained consistent in pursuit of a win-win deal for all the stakeholders.

Mr Meles regretted Mr Shoukry's remarks, which he said went against the spirit of the negotiations.

Since GERD was launched seven years ago, the three countries have held talks but failed to resolve the controversy.

An April 2015 Declaration of Principles stipulated to resolve the dispute only through peaceful means.

To Egypt, the Nile River is a matter of life and death and its position is that any negotiation must guarantee its 66 per cent historical rights with a veto power.

Rebel groups

Sudan has 22 per cent of the water rights, according to the 1959 colonial agreement, while Ethiopia, the source of 86 per cent of the Nile waters, was excluded from the deal.

GERD is a symbol of sovereignty and prestige to Ethiopia. It is also an important geopolitical tool for Addis Ababa, and has elevated the country to a rare level of influence over its historical rival Egypt.

Over the years, Egypt has been accused of supporting several rebel groups to destabilise Ethiopia, claims Cairo has always rejected.

Recent political crisis in Ethiopia was expected to weaken its negotiation power, but the situation changed soon and Addis Ababa seems to be recovering well under new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.