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Irrigation Minister stresses that Egypt’s water rights are a ‘red line’

Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources, Hany Sweilem on Saturday stressed that Egypt’s water rights are a red line for Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) negotiations.

These talks are not about Egypt’s water rights, but about the method of filling and operating the GERD, he added.

“We have not been negotiating water shares since the beginning of the negotiations, and it has not and will not happen now or in the future, rather we are negotiating the filling and operation of the GERD in a way that serves Ethiopia and preserves the interests of Sudan and Egypt.”

During an interview with Lamis al-Hadidi on Egypt’s “Last Word” (Kalema Akhera) television show, Sweilem expressed cautious optimism about the course of upcoming negotiations between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia.

He continued, “I am optimistic about the negotiations, but with caution, and this is what we will see in the next four months. We have a negotiating team at the highest level, staffed with the highest legal, political and technical cadres.”

Sweilem stressed that good intentions alone are not sufficient to resolve the matter.

“The issue is not about intentions, but about what will be written on paper, and we must reach a binding legal agreement between the three countries that protects the rights of all, development rights, and the interests of the three countries,” he explained.

Regarding Sudan’s status in the next round of negotiations due to its current conflict, the minister assured, “Egypt is very keen on Sudan’s interests and its water needs, and we are communicating with Ethiopia and Sudan to start tripartite negotiations.”

“Sudan is affected by the daily dealings with the GERD due to its proximity, and it successively impacts the safety of the Roseires Dam.”

He added that the future of development in the area requires the three countries to work together, saying: “Working unilaterally on the Nile River cannot lead to stability in the region.”

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed agreed earlier this month to initiate urgent negotiations to finalize agreement by Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan on the filling of GERD and the rules of its operation within four months.

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