The leaders of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan met in the Sudanese capital Khartoum on Monday to sign a trilateral “declaration of principles” on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).
State TV showed President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn shaking hands as they signed the agreement.
In a speech prior to signing the agreement, Desalegn stated that Ethiopia in no way intends to harm any downstream countries and specifically addressed “the Egyptian people” saying, “Ethiopia would never harm Egypt’s development,” reported the state-owned Al-Ahram newspaper.
He added that the preliminary agreement would crystalize and solidify regional cooperation.
Sisi also stated that, “despite the fact that the project represents Ethiopia’s efforts to develop clean energy and development, it is a concern for the Egyptian people because the Nile is their life source.”
He added that the “declaration of principles” was the foundation that further agreements would be based on and is one of the first steps on the path of “understanding and rapprochement between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia,” reported the Reuters-affiliated Aswat Masreya.
Aswat Masreya added that the Sudanese President Bashir stated that national interests could not come at the expense of regional ones.
The preliminary agreement is the latest development in a series of negotiations between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia on the GERD. Earlier this month, the irrigation and foreign ministers of the three countries negotiated a draft agreement on cooperation between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia, reported Aswat Masreya.
Egyptian politicians have previously expressed concern that the dam could divert a significant share of its waters to Ethiopia. In April 2014, the Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs Nabil Fahmy accused Ethiopia of “unwillingness to understand Egypt’s legitimate concerns and participate in serious dialogue.”
If completed, the $US5 billion dam will be the largest in the Nile Basin. The project aims to generate electricity for Ethiopia as well as to export cheap energy to countries like Sudan, Morrocco and South Africa.
The dam has largely been financed through local bonds and taxes.