Renewed African Union-brokered talks between Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopian over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) have been postponed again for one week -- to be held on 17 August -- upon Khartoum s request, said Addis Ababa and Khartoum in separate statements on Monday.
The statements were released after the three countries resumed on Monday talks over the rules of filling and operating the hydropower project. The talks had resumed following one week of suspension upon the request of Cairo and Khartoum in rejection of an Ethiopian proposal submitted on 3 August containing only guidelines on the filling process, as opposed to the legally binding agreement that Egypt and Sudan have repeatedly demanded.
During Monday s meeting, the Sudanese delegation requested talks be put off for a week to continue internal consultations over the latest Ethiopian proposal, the statements added.
The three countries are scheduled to reconvene on 17 August, the Ethiopian statement said, adding that "Addis Ababa is committed to the tripartite negotiations as a negotiated agreement is the only option."
Last week, Egypt said the Ethiopian proposal lacked guidelines on the operation of the dam, any elements indicating a binding deal, or a legal mechanism to settle disputes, while Sudan described the Ethiopian proposal as "dangerous", threatening to withdraw from the talks if Ethiopia insisted on linking an agreement on the dam s filling to a deal on sharing the Blue Nile water.
The Ethiopian proposal came almost two weeks after Addis Ababa announced it had achieved its first-year target for the filling of the dam s reservoir due to the rainfall season. The move was condemned by Cairo and Khartoum -- both have sought a legally binding agreement before the dam was filled.
Egypt sent a letter on Wednesday to South Africa, which currently chairs the AU, reaffirming Cairo s rejection of Ethiopia s “unilateral” initial filling of the GERD and the new Ethiopian draft proposal.
In its letter, Cairo said the Ethiopian proposal violates directives by the AU in July calling on the three countries to swiftly finalise a legally binding agreement.
However, Addis Ababa said on Monday the proposal is in line with the communiqué of the AU assembly Bureau dated on 24 July and the understanding reached by the three nations irrigation ministers during their meeting on 3 August.
The nearly $5 billion mega-dam, built 15 kilometres from the Ethiopian border with Sudan, has been a source of tension between the three nations. Cairo fears the project will significantly cut its water supply from the River Nile, while Sudan fears it will endanger the safety of its own dams.
Ethiopia says the massive project, which it hopes will make it Africa s largest power exporter, is key to its development efforts.