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

Sudan on Thursday reiterated keenness to reach a deal over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) that satisfies all parties.

“We reaffirm Sudan’s firm and vigorous keenness to reach an agreement that satisfies all parties and preserves their interests, including Ethiopia’s right to development, on the condition that a binding agreement is signed on filling and operation of the Renaissance Dam and in accordance with what was agreed upon in the (2015) Declaration of Principles,” said Sudan’s Foreign Ministry in a statement.

The Ministry also refuted the reported statements by the Ethiopian minister of water, irrigation and energy that Sudan and Egypt refuse the participation of South Africa in the dam negotiation team. “These statements are incorrect and untrue,” the Ministry said in the statement.

It blamed the failure of the latest round of talks to reach a deal on “Ethiopia’s obstinacy and its failure to respond to the proposed solutions presented by Sudan and Egypt.”

From April 3 to 5, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, current chair of the African Union, hosted a round of talks over the GERD with the participation of Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia. Sudan proposed a mediation quartet of the United Nations, the European Union, the United States and the African Union regarding the GERD issue. Ethiopia, however, rejected this formula.

In February, Ethiopia said it would carry on with the second-phase 13.5-billion-cubic-meter filling of the GERD in June. The volume of the first-phase filling last year was 4.9 billion cubic meters. Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia have been in talks for years over the technical and legal issues related to the filling and operation of the GERD.

Ethiopia, which started building the GERD in 2011, expects to produce more than 6,000 megawatts of electricity from the dam project, while Egypt and Sudan, downstream Nile Basin countries that rely on the river for its freshwater, are concerned that the dam might affect their share of the water resources.

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