ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia

Leaders of Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt met on Friday to deliberate on the faltering trilateral technical and legal negotiations on Ethiopia’s $5-billion hydro dam on the Nile River.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi attended the video conference organized by the African Union Commission.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, also the chairperson of the African Union for this year, presided over the meeting that also saw the attendance of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta.

“Fruitful discussions on African Solutions to the #GERD with the Bureau of the AU Assembly plus #Ethiopia, #Sudan & #Egypt. I appreciate @CyrilRamaphosa for his leadership in facilitating these high-level talks of continental significance,” Abiy, Ethiopia’s 2019 Nobel Laureate for Peace, said on Twitter.

He also expressed gratitude for Ramaphosa who played an active role in bringing the three leaders together.

“Our continental organization, with a Pan-African spirit, is the right space for a dialogue on issues that are of value to #Africa. The #GERD offers all stakeholders the opportunity for unprecedented economic growth and mutual development,” Abiy said.

Talks between the three resumed this month after having been suspended since February after a series of meetings held in Washington under the auspices of the US, UN and World Bank.

Ethiopia launched the $5-billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) project in 2011 at a site 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) from its border with Sudan.

Egypt has claimed that the dam will reduce the flow of Nile waters downstream while Ethiopia maintains that it needs the dam for national development as well as regional electricity interconnection.

Ethiopia hopes to retain 4.9 billion cubic meters of water during the coming rainy season in July and August as part of the first-phase filling and the volume will be enough to test two turbines in mid-2021.

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