Khartoum to Host New Round of Nile Dam Talks on Saturday

The Sudanese capital Khartoum will host a new round of tripartite talks between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia on Saturday to discuss issues related to Ethiopia’s new Nile dam, Egypt’s state-run news agency MENA reported Wednesday.

The talks — which will include ministers of electricity, irrigation and water resources, as well as technical experts — represent the third round of negotiations between the three states in an attempt to reach a settlement over Ethiopia’s controversial Grand Renaissance dam project on the Blue Nile.

MENA stated that the three Nile Basin countries will issue a statement following the conclusion of the two-day talks.

The last negotiating round on 8 December led to the establishment of a tripartite committee to supervise the construction of the dam in a manner that guarantees the water interests of the involved parties to the crisis.

Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir announced his support for the dam, currently under construction in Ethiopia, during a meeting with the country’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn last month.

The pair signed 14 new agreements, covering security, a free trade zone, investment and electricity, and an agreement to build a railway line linking the two countries to enhance trade and economic relations.

In June, Ethiopia’s parliament ratified a controversial international treaty to ensure its access to Nile water resources. It allows upstream countries to implement irrigation and hydropower projects without first seeking Egypt’s approval. The deal replaces colonial-era agreements that granted Egypt and Sudan the majority of water rights.

Egypt and Sudan have not signed the treaty led by the Nile Basin Initiative, but six upstream nations have.

Ethiopia inked the deal in May 2010, and its ratification by parliament came amid rising tensions between Addis Ababa and Cairo over Ethiopia’s construction of the dam on the Blue Nile.

Ethiopia began diverting the Blue Nile in May, paving the way for the construction of the $4.2 billion dam, set to become Africa’s biggest hydroelectric dam when completed.

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