The Foreign Ministers of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan reaffirmed 6 November a commitment to reach a comprehensive, cooperative, adaptive, sustainable, and mutually beneficial agreement on the filling and operation of the controverial Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).
The countries' representatives committed in Washington DC to establishing a clear process for fulfilling the commitments of a 2015 Declaration of Principles and agreed to hold four technical water minister level meetings. Representaivies of the World Bank and the United States government will support and attend the meetings as observers.
The foreign ministers noted their agreement to hold four technical governmental meetings at the level of water ministers. The ministers agreed that the World Bank and the United States would support and attend the meetings as observers. The ministers also agreed to work toward completion of an agreement by January 15, 2020, and would attend two meetings in Washington, D.C. on December 9, 2019 and January 13, 2020, to assess and support progress. If an agreement is not reached by January 15, 2020, the foreign ministers agree that Article 10 of the 2015 Declaration of Principles will be invoked.
The foreign ministers reaffirmed the significance of the Nile to the development of the people of Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan, the importance of transboundary cooperation, and their shared interest in concluding an agreement.
Egypt has insisted that Ethiopia should fill the dam reservoir over a period of seven years and release 40 billion cubic meters of water every year. However, Ethiopia wants to fill the dam in 3 years and earlier this year rejected Egypt’s proposal, claiming that it does not “respect current and future rights and development plans of Ethiopia over the Nile and complicates the filling of the dam”.
After the ministers met with the US Treasury Secretary and the President of the World Bank, US President Donald Trump tweeted an Oval Office photo with the delegations, noting: "Just had a meeting with top representatives from Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan to help solve their long running dispute on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, one of the largest in the world, currently being built. The meeting went well and discussions will continue during the day!"
A subsequent Egypt government press release quoted the country's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry saying that the talks yielded positive results that would help fix the path of future negotiations and outline a clear and precise timeframe for them.
He also said that a decision was reached on holding four urgent trilateral meetings at the level of the water resources ministers and with the participation of representatives from the US and the World Bank to reach an agreement on filling and operating the dam’s reservoir within a period of two months and by 15 January 2020. During the course of that period, he pointed out, two meetings will be held in Washington at the invitation of US Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin to assess the progress of negotiations.
Shoukry expressed Egypt President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s deep appreciation of US President Donald Trump’s decision to sponsor the three-way talks and his reception of the three parties’ ministers, praising the constructive and pivotal role Trump and his country have undertaken regarding this matter. He noted that the US stance reflects the depth of strategic Egyptian-American relations and voiced his belief that Washington’s mediation efforts will help in reaching an agreement that would contribute to realizing stability and development in the East Africa region.