Ethiopia skips latest US talks with Egypt over dam dispute

A handout picture released by the Egyptian Presidency on February 22, 2020 shows Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (C) meeting with Ethiopia's former prime minister and special envoy Hailemariam Desalegn (C-L) at the presidential palace in the capital Cairo, accompanied by Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry (C-R) and intelligence chief Abbas Kamel (2nd-R). (AFP)
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Updated 26 February 2020

Ethiopia skips latest US talks with Egypt over dam dispute

  • The dispute over the dam pits Ethiopia’s desire to pull millions out of poverty against Egypt’s concerns over a critical water supply
  • The US became involved in the talks after Egypt’s invitation

ADDIS ABABA: Ethiopia will skip the latest round of US-brokered talks this week on a disputed Nile dam project with Egypt and Sudan, the country’s water ministry announced Wednesday.
A final deal on the massive Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam had been expected this month, but US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in his Ethiopia visit last week that an agreement now might take months as “a great deal of work remains.”
The dispute over what will be Africa’s largest hydroelectric dam pits Ethiopia’s desire to pull millions out of poverty against Egypt’s concerns over a critical water supply.
Ethiopia will skip the talks in Washington on Thursday and Friday “because the country’s delegation hasn’t concluded its consultation with relevant stakeholders,” the ministry of water, irrigation and energy said on its Facebook page. “The decision has been communicated with the US Treasury secretary.”
The announcement came amid widespread concerns in Ethiopia that its delegation has been pressured by the US to reach a deal on $4.6 billion dam that is nearing completion. The US became involved in the talks after Egypt’s invitation.
“Ethiopia will never sign on an agreement that will surrender its right to use the Nile River,” the Ethiopian ambassador to the US, Fitsum Arega, said on Twitter.
Egypt wants the dam to be filled more slowly to reduce restrictions on the flow of the Nile.
Ethiopia says the dam is needed to provide electricity for development. In January it announced that it will start filling the dam, now more than 70% complete, in July at the start of the rainy season.
“There was lots of discomfort recently due to the behavior and changing role of the US among policy makers in Ethiopia,” political analyst Abel Abate Demissie told The Associated Press.


HK media tycoon Jimmy Lai arrested under national security law

Updated 37 min 51 sec ago

HK media tycoon Jimmy Lai arrested under national security law

  • Lai has been one of the most prominent democracy activists in the Chinese-ruled city and an ardent critic of Beijing

HONG KONG: Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai has been arrested over suspected collusion with foreign forces under the new national security law, his top aide said on Twitter, in what is the highest-profile arrest yet under the legislation.
Lai has been one of the most prominent democracy activists in the Chinese-ruled city and an ardent critic of Beijing, which imposed the sweeping new law on Hong Kong on June 30, drawing condemnation from Western countries.
The new security law punishes anything China considers subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in prison.
Critics say it crushes freedoms in the semiautonomous city, while supporters say it will bring stability after prolonged pro-democracy protests last year.
“Jimmy Lai is being arrested for collusion with foreign powers at this time,” Mark Simon, a senior executive at Lai’s media company Next Digital, which publishes local tabloid Apple Daily, said early on Monday.
Police did not immediately comment.
Lai was also arrested this year on illegal assembly charges, along with other leading activists, relating to protests last year.
In an interview with Reuters in May, Lai pledged to stay in Hong Kong and continue to fight for democracy even though he expected to be one of the targets of the new legislation.