Thursday, November 7, 2019

US Hosts Tripartite Talks on Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam

The Voice of America published on 6 November 2019 a story titled "Trump Meets with Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan FMs about Dam Feud" by Patsy Widakuswara.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi asked President Trump to "mediate" the dispute with Ethiopia concerning water flows from the Blue Nile as Ethiopia constructs the huge Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). The Blue Nile provides more than half of the water that eventually reaches the Aswan Dam. President Trump asked Treasury Secretary Mnuchin (unusual in that this is an issue normally handled by the State Department) to meet with the foreign ministers of Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan in Washington on 6 November. World Bank President David Malpass joined the session; the World Bank administers the Nile Basin Trust Fund.

At the conclusion of the meeting, the participants "reaffirmed their joint commitment to reach a comprehensive, cooperative, adaptive, sustainable, and mutually beneficial agreement on the filling and operation" of the GERD. The ministers said they would work to reach completion of an agreement by 15 January 2020. The World Bank and the United States would support and attend the meetings as observers.

These talks have been underway for several years. The Egyptian president and Ethiopian prime minister most recently met in late October on the the margins of the Russia-Africa summit in Sochi. While the fact they are still talking is positive, it does not appear there was any breakthrough in Washington. The role of the United States also sounds much more like "good offices" rather than mediation.

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