Ethiopia will not fill Nile Dam without reaching deal: Sudan

A 2017 file photo shows the construction site of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam in Guba in the North West of Ethiopia,

CAIRO — Sudan, Ethiopia and Egypt agreed that Ethiopia will not start filling its giant Nile Dam without reaching an agreement between them, Reuters quoted Sudan's state news agency as saying Saturday.

The Egyptian presidency also said in a statement that Ethiopia will not fill the dam unilaterally, after leaders from the three countries and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who chairs the African Union, held an online summit.

It was unveiled that Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan have agreed to resume negotiations over the operation and filling of the massive Nile Dam being built by Addis Ababa following the videoconference summit that brought together the leaders of the three nations under the auspices of the African Union.

The decision to resume the negotiations came late on Friday during a lengthy videoconference summit meeting of the leaders of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan. The meeting was sponsored by Ramaphosa. The leaders of Kenya, Mali and the Democratic Republic of Congo were also in attendance.

The meeting decided to form a joint committee bringing together technical and legal experts from Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan to produce a legally binding agreement within two weeks. The agreement hopefully would resolve all outstanding issues, like how to handle sustained drought and settle future disputes.

The decision to resume the negotiations is likely to defuse tensions that have steadily built up between the three nations since the collapse of the latest round of talks earlier this month.

Egypt, which fears the dam would reduce its vital share of the river’s waters, said at the time that Ethiopia did not want a legally binding deal and that it also rejected a binding process to settle future disputes or agree to effective measures to deal with future spells of drought.

For its part, Ethiopia said Egypt was clinging to outdated, colonial-era deals that gave it the lion’s share of the Nile’s water without heed or care for the interests of the other 10 river basin countries.

Representatives of the United States, the European Union, the African Union and others would sit on the committee meetings, also to be held on videoconference. A UN Security Council meeting to discuss the dispute would go ahead as scheduled on Monday, according to Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry. — SPA/Agencies