South Sudan President Salva Kiir has visited Cairo to discuss Egypt’s Nile dam dispute with Ethiopia as well as bilateral relations and trade.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi held talks on Sunday with his South Sudanese counterpart Salva Kiir on the controversial Great Renaissance Dam (GERD) Ethiopia has built on the Nile River as well as bilateral relations.
Egypt and Ethiopia have been locked in a bitter dispute over the GERD. Egypt fears that the Ethiopian mega-dam will drastically reduce its water supply, with catastrophic consequences. Negotiations between the two countries broke down in April and have not resumed.
Tensions increased in July when Ethiopia unilaterally began filling the dam’s reservoir for a second time after African Union mediated talks broke down.
Egypt has recently attempted to improve ties with downstream Nile states in an effort to strengthen its position vis-à-vis Ethiopia on the dam. During the talks with Kiir, Al-Sisi reiterated Egypt’s position that there must be a binding agreement regarding the filling and operation of the GERD.
Ethiopia claims that it has a right to unilaterally operate the GERD and fill its reservoir, saying that the dam is essential for its economic development.
Kiir commented on the Nile dam dispute on his trip to Cairo, saying that on a visit to Addis Ababa in August, he had received assurances from Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed that negotiations over the GERD would resume in October.
However, he added that Ahmed was currently occupied with fighting rebels in the Tigray region.
During his meeting with Kiir, Sisi expressed Egypt’s support for the peace process in South Sudan and said that Egypt would increase trade with South Sudan and provide training programmes and scholarships to South Sudanese students.
Egypt has also established irrigation and agricultural programmes in South Sudan.
South Sudan, one of the world’s least developed nations, gained independence from Sudan in 2011 but the country has been torn apart by conflict between rival factions of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM). A peace deal was signed in February 2020.