The nine-party meeting of the ministers of foreign affairs and water and heads of intelligence of Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia was successful, and its outline document was signed by the participants early on Wednesday, according to Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ahmed Abou Zaid.
During the meeting, which was held in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, the ministers asserted the commitment of the three countries to the Declaration of Principles on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which was signed in Khartoum, Sudan in March 2015.
The meeting resulted in agreeing on regularising the tripartite summit between the leaders of the three countries every six months on the basis of rotation between their respective capitals. They also agreed on establishing the Tripartite Infrastructure Fund to provide suggestions for joint infrastructure and development projects in the three nations, in line with the directives of the leaders of the three states during their meeting in Sharm El-Sheikh.
Additionally, they agreed to bring together high-ranking officials from the three countries to work out the most suitable way to establish the fund, which will be addressed to the three leaders through the concerned ministers, according to the document. The three countries accepted Egypt’s invitation to host the high-ranking officials at a meeting in Cairo on 2-4 July.
The three countries agreed that the current chairperson of the Tripartite National Committee (TNC) will provide the consultancy firm with a compilation of queries and observations regarding the Draft Inception Report which have not gained consensus within the TNC, do not constitute any pressures on the consultancy, and are due to receive a reply from the consultancy. That measure is a sole exception to the TNC’s practices and rules.
Within three weeks, the consultancy will submit its written reply in accordance with the contract and the consultancy services agreement. The reply will be discussed during a meeting of the TNC in Cairo one week after receiving the reply. Another nine-party meeting shall be held in Cairo on 18-19 June in the presence of the consultancy to review the report, according to the document.
One of the most significant points of the document is the establishment of a national independent scientific research study group between the three countries to discuss ways of boosting levels of cooperation among them regarding the GERD, as well as discussing various scenarios related to the filling and operation rules of the dam in accordance with the principle of equitable and reasonable utilisation of shared water resources to prevent causing harm to each party.
The scientific group consists of 15 members, with five members representing each country. It will hold nine meetings each for three days in rotation. The group shall submit outcomes to be discussed within three months by 15 August.
The past weeks witnessed tensions between Egypt and Ethiopia over the GERD and the Draft Inception Report. Egypt harbours fears that the GERD could affect its historic share of Nile water.