By Mohammed Amin
States of the Eastern Nile Basin region -- including Ethiopia, Sudan and South Sudan -- held an annual meeting in Khartoum on Tuesday in the absence of Egyptian representatives.
Egypt suspended its membership in the in the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) in 2000 to protest plans by upstream countries to “renegotiate” a 1959 water-sharing agreement.
Tuesday’s meeting comes one day before the resumption of tripartite talks between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia -- following a two-year hiatus -- to discuss Addis Ababa’s controversial Great Renaissance Dam project.
After the opening session, Sudanese Irrigation and Electricity Minister Mutaz Miss told reporters that the meeting would discuss means of enhancing coordination between NBI member-states with a view to optimizing Nile water use in the fields of agriculture and electricity production.
Ethiopian Irrigation Minister Sileshi Bekele, for his part, accused “unnamed parties” of intentionally working to sow dissension among NBI member-states.
South Sudanese Irrigation Minister Sophia Pal, meanwhile, called for a more mutually-beneficial system of water-sharing between states of the region.
Egypt fears that any modification of the 1959 water-sharing treaty will adversely affect its historical share of Nile water.