Egypt concerned over discords with Ethiopia in dam talks

Source: Xinhua| 2018-01-22 21:47:06|Editor: Liangyu
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CAIRO, Jan. 22 (Xinhua) -- Egypt expressed concern over reports of Ethiopia's disagreement over the World Bank's role in the stalled technical negotiations over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), Official Ahram Online news website reported Monday.

Egyptian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid said Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry telephoned his Ethiopian counterpart Workneh Gebeyehu to check the veracity of a report by the official Ethiopian news agency, in which Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn was quoted as saying the World Bank should not play the role of arbiter in GERD negotiations.

Shoukry also enquired about the timing of Desalegn's alleged statements ahead of a scheduled tripartite talks between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia.

"The technical talks cannot be subject to political interpretations. Those who reject the Egyptian proposal should present logical reasons because the situation does not need any more procrastination," Abu Zeid said.

"Egypt will wait till it receives a clear official response from Ethiopia and Sudan to its proposal at the trilateral meeting then decide on the course of action we will take," the spokesperson said.

The Ethiopian FM told Shoukry that Desalegn's statements were taken out of context, Abu Zeid said.

Desalegn was quoted as saying that Ethiopia rejects Egypt's proposal to allow the World Bank to take part in the technical talks over the impact of the GERD on the Nile water supplies of downstream countries.

"Seeking professional support is one thing. Transferring [arbitration] to an institution is another thing. So we told them that this is not acceptable to our side," Desalegn was quoted as saying upon his return from Cairo on Friday after an official visit to Egypt.

"It is possible to reach agreement through cooperation and with the spirit of trust," the Ethiopian PM told the news agency.

Ethiopia's PM Desalegn had told Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi during a meeting in Cairo on Thursday that Addis Ababa understands "the necessity of overcoming any current obstacles in ongoing negotiations over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam."

For his part, Sisi explained to the Ethiopian PM that Egypt's recent proposal to include the World Bank as a neutral mediator in GERD negotiations was aimed at overcoming the delays in technical negotiations and to reassure all involved countries.

The Ethiopian PM said the Egyptian proposal "would be discussed on the level of the tripartite committee during their upcoming meeting."

In December, Egypt proposed that the World Bank be allowed to help settle the dispute between the two countries over the hydroelectric dam that Addis Ababa is building and which Egypt fears will affect its share of Nile water.

For the past several months, talks between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan over the dam and technical studies on its environmental impact have been deadlocked.