Pompeo says Ethiopia-Egypt dam dispute could take months to resolve

Pompeo says Ethiopia-Egypt dam dispute could take months to resolve
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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a joint press conference with Ethiopian Foreign Minister Gedu Andargachew at the Sheraton Hotel, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Tuesday Feb. 18, 2020. (AP)
Pompeo says Ethiopia-Egypt dam dispute could take months to resolve
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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo walks with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed at the Prime Minister office after a meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia February 18, 2020. (Reuters)
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Updated 18 February 2020

Pompeo says Ethiopia-Egypt dam dispute could take months to resolve

Pompeo says Ethiopia-Egypt dam dispute could take months to resolve
  • The US Treasury Department stepped in last year to facilitate talks between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan
  • Pompeo said the process could take longer

ADDIS ABABA: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Tuesday that it could take “months” to resolve a dispute between Ethiopia and Egypt over a massive dam on the Nile River.
Tensions have been high in the Nile basin ever since Ethiopia broke ground on the project in 2011.
The US Treasury Department stepped in last year to facilitate talks between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan — another downstream country — after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi reached out to US President Donald Trump, a close ally.
The latest round of talks concluded in Washington last week, and officials have said they want to reach a deal by the end of February.
But at a press conference Tuesday in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, Pompeo said the process could take longer.
“A great deal of work remains, but I’m optimistic that over the coming months we can resolve this,” he said.
Ethiopia says the dam — which will be the largest hydropower plant in Africa — is crucial for its growing economy.
Egypt fears the project will disrupt the river that provides 90 percent of its drinking water.
Addisu Lashitew, an analyst at the Brookings Institution in Washington, said he expected Pompeo “will be trying to make a final push” to reach a deal during his stay in Ethiopia.
“President Trump seeks to get the credit... as the dealmaker for resolving this issue,” Addisu said on a call with reporters last week.
Ethiopian Foreign Minister Gedu Andargachew said at the press conference Tuesday there were “outstanding issues that need negotiation.”
He did not elaborate, but major sticking points include the filling of the dam’s reservoir, which Egypt worries will dramatically curb water flow downstream.
Ethiopia is the last stop on Pompeo’s three-country Africa tour, the first by a US cabinet-level official to the continent in 19 months.
On Tuesday he met Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who won the Nobel Peace Prize last year in part for pursuing an ambitious reform agenda upon taking office in 2018 following several years of anti-government protests.
Pompeo said the two men discussed the reforms and preparations for landmark elections planned for August 29.
“A free and credible vote will show there is no false choice between democracy and security, and it will ensure that everyone has a voice,” Pompeo said.
“I think the most impressive thing about these reforms is that they’re owned by the Ethiopian people,” he added.
Pompeo also met Tuesday with Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde and Moussa Faki Mahamat, chair of the African Union Commission which is headquartered in Addis Ababa.
On Wednesday he is expected to deliver a policy speech at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa before flying to Saudi Arabia.
Pompeo is attempting to lay out a positive vision for US cooperation with Africa, though analysts point out that the Trump administration’s record complicates that message.
The US is currently discussing military cuts in Africa.
Pompeo’s visit also comes just weeks after the US announced tightened visa rules targeting Africa’s most populous country, Nigeria, as well as Tanzania, Sudan and Eritrea.


Duterte: Philippines wants more cooperation with Pakistan, Russia, India

Updated 58 sec ago

Duterte: Philippines wants more cooperation with Pakistan, Russia, India

Duterte: Philippines wants more cooperation with Pakistan, Russia, India
  • The president wants to cooperate with Pakistan and Russia in the areas of counterterrorism and healthcare
  • Duterte also promised to expand defense cooperation with India

MANILA: President Rodrigo Duterte has expressed the Philippines’ interest in expanding cooperation with Pakistan and Russia in the areas of counterterrorism and healthcare, especially in the fight against coronavirus.
His comments came as he received the credentials of several new envoys to Manila on Wednesday.
“Let me extend our military-to-military exchanges and sharing of intelligence and best practices, particularly in countering terrorism and violence,” Duterte told Pakistani Ambassador Dr. Imtiaz Ahmad Kazi.
He praised Duterte’s “far-sighted policies” and “leadership, which has brought so many dividends for the Republic of the Philippines.”
The two countries enjoy “long, enduring ties of friendship and cooperation,” Kazi said. “In fact, we started off in 1949, when a consulate of the Philippines was opened
in Karachi.”
He referred to the island region of Mindanao, which has a significant Muslim population and has seen numerous outbreaks of militancy and separatism.
“We, in Pakistan, admire the consistent endeavors of your excellency towards restoration of peace and stability in the Mindanao region, which has brought increased trust and stability among the stakeholders, and significant prosperity for the people of the region and the country,” Kazi said.
In 2017, Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao following a five-month siege of Marawi City by Daesh-affiliated militants.
During Wednesday’s ceremony, Duterte also promised to expand defense cooperation with India as he welcomed New Delhi’s Ambassador Shambhu Kumaran.
Duterte said relations between India and the Philippines are driven by synergies between his administration’s independent foreign policy and New Delhi’s “Act East” policy.
“The Philippines is committed to further enhance cooperation with India in defense, security, trade and investments, and in combating the COVID-19 pandemic,”
he told Kumaran.
The ambassador said India would like to explore “various opportunities for cooperation in new areas such as space, and to work towards ensuring a stable, peaceful and prosperous Indo-Pacific by working together in the areas of defense and maritime security.”
Accepting the letter of credence from Russian Ambassador Marat Pavlov, Duterte said the Philippines considers Russia a good friend
and partner.
“We aim for an even more robust and deeper cooperation in the coming years,” Duterte told Pavlov. “We thank Russia for its offer to supply (the coronavirus vaccine) Sputnik V and share its technology on vaccine production with
the Philippines.”
Russia and the Philippines have agreed to conduct the vaccine’s Phase 3 clinical trials together, as Moscow promised to share its vaccine technology with Manila and pledged to build a pharmaceutical facility in the country.
Duterte repeated his invitation for Russian President Vladimir Putin to visit the Philippines, as next year the countries will mark their 45th anniversary of diplomatic relations.
“It will be an opportunity to celebrate and reaffirm the enduring friendship and cooperation between our countries,” Duterte said.