Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi and visiting Chairman of Sudan’s Sovereign Council Abdel Fattah al-Burhan on Tuesday expressed the two countries’ commitment to a binding deal over the filling and operation of the controversial Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), the President’s office said in a statement.
“The two leaders stressed that the water issue is a matter of national security to their countries,” said the president’s spokesman Bassam Rady, adding they have reached a consensus on the disputed issues of the GERD.
Sisi also voiced full support for the political leadership of Sudan in shaping their country’s future which will help achieve regional peace and stability.
Al-Burhan’s visit comes hours before the resumption of the African Union-brokered trilateral talks between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia over the GERD, which have been stalled for seven weeks.
The new talks come just days after U.S. President Donald Trump blamed Ethiopia for the failure of previous negotiations over the GERD.
“It’s a very dangerous situation because Egypt is not going to be able to live that way,” Trump told Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok in a phone call, saying Egypt may “end up blowing up the Dam.”
Ethiopia later summoned the U.S. ambassador over Trump’s remarks, deeming them as an incitement of war.
Earlier in October, al-Sisi held talks in Cairo with his Kenyan counterpart Uhuru Kenyatta on the disputed dam, and later in mid-October he received a phone call from South African President Cyril Ramaphosa over the issue.
Ethiopia started building the GERD in 2011, while Egypt is concerned that the dam might affect its 55.5-billion-cubic-meter annual share of Nile water. Sudan has recently been raising similar concerns over the 4-billion-U.S.-dollar dam.
Over the past few years, tripartite talks on the rules of filling and operating the GERD, with a total capacity of 74 billion cubic meters, have been fruitless, including those hosted by Washington and recently by the African Union.