Presidents of Egypt and DRC discuss dispute over Ethiopia’s Nile dam

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Even before the impact studies have been started, officials say 50 percent of the dam's construction has been completed [Reuters]

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi and his counterpart of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) Felix Tshisekedi on Thursday discussed over the phone the disputed Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

During the conversation, Sisi reiterated Egypt’s position that calls for reaching a legally binding agreement on the rules of filling and operating the GERD before the next rainy season, in order to preserve the water rights of the downstream countries, Egyptian presidential spokesman Bassam Rady in a statement.

Sisi also affirmed Egypt’s support for the Sudanese proposal to form an international quartet under the chairmanship of the African Union to mediate the GERD talks.

Sisi stressed his country’s keenness to develop relations with the DRC at all levels, as well as strengthening close coordination between the two countries on regional issues of mutual interest.

Tshisekedi, whose country currently chairs the African Union, appreciated the sincere and relentless Egyptian efforts to reach a balanced solution to the GERD issue that takes into account the interests of all parties. The phone talks came a few hours after Sisi held talks with Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok in Cairo, where they agreed to intensify coordination over the issue of the GERD.

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 4-billion-U.S.-dollar dam. Over the past few years, the tripartite talks on the rules of filling and operating the GERD, with a total capacity of 74 billion cubic meters, have been fruitless.

Ethiopia carried out the first phase of filling the dam in July 2020 and is expected to start the second phase later this year.

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