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

Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia on Sunday agreed to suspend the tripartite talks over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) for one week.

The three countries announced the decision in a joint communique issued following a video meeting on Sunday in presence of the African Union experts and the international observers.

“The meeting adopted a proposal by Sudan to devote this week for bilateral meetings among the three countries and the team of experts and observers,” according to the communique.

It noted that South Africa’s Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Naledi Pandor, who chaired the meeting, demanded that the meetings should focus on determining the points of agreement and difference among the three countries, provided that the tripartite meetings are to resume on Jan. 10.

It added that the three countries reviewed during the meeting their positions regarding possibility of reaching a formula that would allow resumption of the talks in light of the positive development with the African experts presenting a memorandum of agreement for the three countries.

Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia have been negotiating under the African Union over 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 project, while Egypt and Sudan, downstream Nile Basin countries that rely on the river for fresh water, are concerned that the dam might affect their water resources.

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