Photo - Grand Ethiopian Renaissance dam project

(Al Arabiya News)

Foreign ministers of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia signed a “Khartoum document,” aimed to resolve differences about the upcoming Renaissance Dam project, following their meeting today in the Sudanese capital.

The agreement finalizes the firm tasked with carrying out studies on the potential impact of Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance Dam on the flow of the Nile, their foreign and water ministers said.

Alaa Yassin, the Egyptian official responsible for the Renaissance Dam project and adviser to the Egyptian Minister of Irrigation who participated in the negotiations, told Al Arabiya News in a phone call from Khartoum that the document says that a French firm was chosen to participate in executing the studies that would last between 8 to 12 months.

He added that there is an agreement that filling the dam will be possible only after a consensus among the three countries and to held regular meetings between representatives of the three countries to resolve the outstanding differences and to respond to the Egyptian concerns with regards to filling the dam with water.

Egyptian sources reported that the foreign and irrigation ministers will hold a new six-party meeting in Khartoum next February 7, to discuss contentious issues, and proposals from Egypt and Sudan.Photo - Grand Ethiopian Renaissance dam project

According to other reports, the three countries had initially picked French firm BRL and Dutch firm Deltares in April but Deltares later withdrew leading them to replace it with Artelia, another French firm, on Tuesday.

The leaders of the three countries signed a cooperation deal in Khartoum in March that paved the way for a joint approach to regional water supplies.

Cairo and Addis Ababa had previously been locked in a bitter war of words over Ethiopia’s $4 billion project, which is designed to feed a hydroelectric plant that will produce 6,000 megawatts.

Tuesday’s agreement came after talks between the foreign and water ministers of the three countries had to be extended for a third day.

The principles in the March agreement included giving priority to downstream countries for electricity generated by the dam, a mechanism for resolving conflicts, and providing compensation for damages.

Signatories also pledged to protect the interests of downstream countries when the dam’s reservoir is filled.

Egypt draws about 90 percent of its water from the Nile, which runs from Khartoum to the south, where the Blue and White Nile rivers converge. It is concerned the dam could negatively affect the supply.

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