New round of talks between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan over filling and operation of Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on Blue Nile River floundered, and Ethiopia lauded completion of first round of filling. Following resumption of tripartite negotiations under African Union (AU) auspices 3 July, talks faltered 13 July as Ethiopia refused to agree to legally-binding dispute-resolution mechanism; Ethiopian govt next day pledged to pursue negotiations but said demands from downstream nations were thwarting chances of reaching agreement. Following AU Bureau-led extraordinary meeting on GERD negotiations 21 July, Ethiopian PM Abiy same day said Addis Ababa had reached “major common understanding with Sudan and Egypt”; Cairo said all three had agreed to prioritise development of binding legal agreement for filling and operating GERD. Abiy same day said Ethiopia had achieved its first-year target for filling reservoir thanks to heavy rainy season, prompting Egypt and Sudan to immediately condemn “unilateral” move. After AU 24 July called on parties to finalise binding agreement on filling and operation of dam, new round of negotiations started 27 July. Sudan next day requested talks to be postponed until 3 Aug to conduct internal consultations.
With rains swelling the Blue Nile, Ethiopia is just weeks away from beginning to fill the massive dam it is building. Egypt and Sudan demand that it not do so without an agreement. All three countries urgently need to make concessions for a deal.