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Talks on Ethiopia’s controversial dam pushed to Tuesday

Published: Updated:

Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia agreed Sunday to present draft proposals over the management of Addis Ababa’s massive and controversial Nile dam within two days, Sudan’s water ministry said.

“After lengthy discussions, the attendees decided to resume negotiations on Tuesday... to work on unifying the texts of the agreements submitted by the three countries,” the ministry said in a statement.

The decision came during an earlier round of talks between water and foreign ministers from the three countries on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

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Talks organized by South Africa, the current chair of the African Union, resumed Sunday after a short suspension, one day after Egypt and Sudan voiced optimism that a deal could be reached.

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), situated in western Ethiopia on the Blue Nile River, has been contentious ever since Ethiopia broke ground on the project in 2011.

Egypt and Sudan view it as a threat to vital water supplies, while Ethiopia considers it crucial for its electrification and development.

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Multiple rounds of talks have failed to yield a breakthrough on how the dam will be managed and operated.

Nevertheless Ethiopia announced in July that it had reached its first-year target for filling the dam’s massive reservoir, a move that sparked anxiety in Cairo and Khartoum.

The South Africa-led talks were suspended earlier this month after Addis Ababa insisted on linking them to renegotiating a deal on sharing the waters of the Blue Nile.

It was not clear Sunday whether that issue had been addressed.

Meeting in Khartoum on Saturday, the prime ministers of Sudan and Egypt said they were optimistic that the talks would ultimately bear fruit.

“It is important to reach an agreement that guarantees the rights and interests of all three nations,” the leaders said in a joint statement, adding that a “mechanism to resolve (future) disputes” should be part of any deal.