A general view of the Blue Nile river as it passes through the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), near Guba in Ethiopia, on December 26, 2019. - The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, a 145-metre-high, 1.8-kilometre-long concrete colossus is set to become the largest hydropower plant in Africa. (AFP)
A general view of the Blue Nile river as it passes through the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), near Guba in Ethiopia, on December 26, 2019. - The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, a 145-metre-high, 1.8-kilometre-long concrete colossus is set to become the largest hydropower plant in Africa. (AFP)

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi held talks on Tuesday with visiting Sudanese Foreign Mariam al-Sadiq al-Mahdi on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) built on the Nile River.

During the meeting, Sisi affirmed “Egypt’s firm position on the inevitability of reaching a binding legal agreement regarding filling and operating the dam,” stressing that the desired agreement should preserve the water rights of the two downstream countries, said the Egyptian presidency in a statement.

The Egyptian president and the Sudanese diplomat also agreed to intensify coordination between Egypt and Sudan regarding this “vital issue.”Sisi also affirmed Egypt’s keenness on boosting relations with Sudan for common construction and development. For her part, the Sudanese foreign minister expressed Sudan’s aspiration to develop joint cooperation between the two countries, appreciating Egypt’s efforts to help maintain Sudan’s security and stability.

The meeting was attended by Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, who also held talks with his Sudanese counterpart the same day. They voiced the concerns of Egypt and Sudan over Ethiopia’s possible second phase of filling the GERD unilaterally, saying the move would pose a direct threat to the water security of Egypt and Sudan.

Ethiopia, an upstream Nile basin country, started building the GERD in 2011, while Egypt is concerned that the dam might affect its 55.5-billion-cubic-meter annual share of the Nile water. Sudan has recently been raising similar concerns over the 5-billion-U.S.-dollar dam. Over the past few years, tripartite talks on the rules of filling and operating the GERD have been fruitless.

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