ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia 

The irrigation and water ministers of Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt met in a virtual conference late Tuesday to discuss the resumption of trilateral talks on $5 billion hydro dam Ethiopia is building over on the Nile River.

Seleshi Bekele, Yasser Abbas, and Mohamed Abdel-Ati addressed procedural matters to resume the negotiations on filing and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

Delegates from the African Union, the US as well as the EU attended the conference.

“The meeting was held in a positive spirit and the three ministers agree to hold daily meetings,” a press release issued by Sudan’s Ministry of Irrigation and Water Resources said.

Two weeks ago Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok separately held phone conversations with Ethiopian and Egyptian leaders calling for immediate resumption of talks.

US-sponsored trilateral talks collapsed in February after Ethiopia accused the US Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin of siding with Egypt.

Mnuchin had issued a statement saying Ethiopia should not begin filling the dam prior to the signing of agreement with Sudan and Egypt.

Ethiopia said it would start the first phase filling in July to hold 4.9 billion cubic meters of water behind the dam as preparation to test two turbines mid next year.

The mega-dam has a capacity of holding 74 billion cubic meters and generating 6,450 megawatt electricity.

Ethiopia contributes 86% of the waters of the Blue Nile but has never made use of the resource.

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