23/03/2020 – Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou stressed the importance of “respecting the norms of international law” during talks with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry on the disputed Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, as Cairo and Addis Ababa remain in a tug-of-war of accusations over the dam.
In a statement issued on Friday, Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman Ahmed Hafez said Issoufou affirmed to Shoukry during talks on GERD the necessity of respecting international law.
In his final stop of a tour of African nations, Shoukry delivered a message from President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi to Issoufou concerning developments on the disputed GERD.
Issoufou cited his country’s Niger River, describing it as “a model in terms of the importance of an agreement by all concerned parties on any projects on the river,” according to the Egyptian statement.
He praised efforts by Egypt during different stages of negotiations on GERD, during a meeting which saw Shoukry presenting in detail Egypt’s stance and efforts in the past years to reach a balanced and fair agreement that accommodates the interests of the three countries, including Sudan, which evolved into Washington-sponsored talks.
Tensions between Egypt and Ethiopia escalated after Addis Ababa withdrew from the final round of talks in Washington earlier this year, citing the need for more time for further domestic consultations.
Egypt has initialled the agreement resulting from the talks, drafted by the US, on the filling and operation of the dam, with Ethiopia and Sudan both declining to sign it.
Over the past weeks, Egyptian officials have delivered messages on developments related to the GERD to Gulf and European partners, including Saudi Arabia, the UAE, France and the European Union, in an attempt to seek support after the failure of talks.
Shoukry has visited Burundi, Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, and Rwanda this week, delivering messages from the Egyptian president about the recent developments concerning the mega-dam.
Egypt fears the massive dam, which is now about 70 percent complete, will significantly diminish its supplies of Nile water. Ethiopia says the hydropower project is key to its development plan to pull millions of its citizens out of poverty.
Sahel-Elite (Bamako-Mali) | Image: Egypt’s foreign minister Sameh Shoukry with Niger’s President on Friday (Photo: Egypt’s foreign ministry)