ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia 

Ethiopia has urged Egypt to stop “exerting external diplomatic pressure” while the trilateral talks on the Nile dam Ethiopia is constructing have resumed between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan on Tuesday.

The call came in a press release issued by the Ministry of Water Resources, Irrigation and Energy at the end of the second-day of trilateral talks on the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

The negotiations restarted recently after the collapse of US-sponsored talks last February with Ethiopia quitting, saying US Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin openly sided with Egypt by calling on Ethiopia not to start filling its $5 billion hydro dam before a trilateral agreement is reached.

Ethiopia maintains that the Declaration of Principles on GERD signed by the three countries in March 2015 provides that construction and negotiation can go parallel.

During the second day of the latest negotiations, Ethiopia and Sudan submitted their positions with Ethiopia saying negotiations will only focus on the first-stage filling and annual operation of the dam.

“[…] Ethiopia calls on the Parties to engage in genuine dialogue and negotiation in order to make sure their concerns are incorporated in the guidelines and rules for first filling and annual operation of GERD and earnestly hopes that the international community will urge them to do so,” the statement read.

“Nevertheless, Egypt’s approach to participate in the ongoing tripartite negotiation while at the same time attempting to resort to the United Nations Security Council for the second time to exert external diplomatic pressure is not an in indication of transparency and good faith in the negotiation,” it noted.

“Ethiopia strongly believes building the necessary trust and confidence among the parties to make progress in the tripartite discussion is absolutely imperative,” it stressed.

According to the statement, Ethiopia maintained that the role of the observers — the EU, US and South Africa — would not exceed “… observing the negotiation and sharing good practices when jointly requested by the three countries.”

The three countries agreed to continue to meet daily except Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays.

But there is already a gap between the positions of Egypt and Ethiopia as to which earlier document to use as reference, with Ethiopia saying the February 12-13, 2020 legal and technical document to provide a basis for this round while Egypt has insisted that the last document, which Ethiopia and Sudan failed to sign, be the point of reference.

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