Sudan FM criticizes Egypt over Ethiopian dam dispute

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In Sudan
Feb 19th, 2014
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February 18, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir returned home on Tuesday from Ethiopia after participating in celebrations marking the 39th anniversary of the establishment of the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

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Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, when completed, will reduce the capacity of the Aswan High Dam, helping to save about six billion cubic metres of water. Image courtesy of Hajor.

Bashir also held talks with Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Haile-Mariam Desalegn on the sidelines of the events which Sudan’s foreign minister Ali Karti said addressed ways to strengthen bilateral trade to serve their countries’ interests.

Karti, who accompanied Bashir on this trip, noted the role that Sudan played Sudan in supporting the Ethiopian rebels who managed to bring down the regime of Mengistu Haile Mariam in 1991.

He told reporters at Khartoum airport that Ethiopia and Sudan have agreed to open border crossings and activate the economic and trade committees between the two countries.

Sudan’s top diplomat then addressed the dispute between Ethiopia and Egypt over the construction of the Grand Renaissance dam along the Blue Nile.

He denied that Sudan is taking sides because of the join interests it has with both nations.

However, Karti appeared critical of Egypt saying that its differences with Ethiopia will not be resolved by screaming over the media and looking down on others, stressing that Sudan will continue its efforts to bridge the gap between the two countries.

“The position of Sudan is clear and we have already called on Egyptian officials to take advantage of the central role that Sudan could play regarding the crisis, but the arrogance of the previous government did not allow them to accept this idea,” he said.

“If there is a room for a role that Sudan can play then the atmosphere must be clear away from the tensions and the cries over the media that do harm and no good” Karti said.

The Sudanese foreign minister is expected to travel to Cairo in the coming days, according to local media.

Egypt fears that the $4.6 billion hydropower plant will diminish its share of the river’s water, arguing its historic water rights must be maintained.

Ethiopia is the source of around 85% of the Nile’s water, mainly through rainfall in its highlands. Over 90% of Egyptians rely on water from the Nile’s flows.

In June, a panel of international experts who were tasked by the three countries to study the impacts of the Ethiopian dam on lower riparian countries, including Sudan and Egypt, found that the dam project will not cause significant harm to either country.

Cairo remains unconvinced and has sought further studies and consultation with Khartoum and Addis Ababa.

Sudan angered its Egyptian neighbor to the north by accepting the final findings and offering to send experts and technicians to help in the dam’s construction, a move welcomed by Ethiopia.

(ST)

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