Trump tells Sisi US will continue to push for Nile dam deal with Ethiopia

Trump tells Sisi US will continue to push for Nile dam deal with Ethiopia
Water flows through Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam as it undergoes construction work on the river Nile in Guba Woreda, Benishangul Gumuz Region, Ethiopia September 26, 2019. (Reuters)
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Updated 04 March 2020

Trump tells Sisi US will continue to push for Nile dam deal with Ethiopia

Trump tells Sisi US will continue to push for Nile dam deal with Ethiopia
  • The three countries had expected to sign an agreement in Washington last week
  • Sisi told Trump that Cairo will continue "giving this issue the utmost attention"

CAIRO:  US President Donald Trump told his Egyptian counterpart Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi in a phone call on Tuesday that Washington will keep up efforts for a deal between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan over an Ethiopia Nile dam, the Egyptian presidency said.
The three countries had expected to sign an agreement in Washington last week on the filling and operation of the $4 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), but Ethiopia skipped the meeting and only Egypt has initialled the deal thus far.
"President Trump emphasised that the US administration will keep up tireless efforts and coordination with Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia over this vital issue until the three countries sign an agreement over the Renaissance Dam," the presidency said in a statement.
Sisi told Trump that Cairo will continue "giving this issue the utmost attention in defence of the interests of the Egyptian people, their capabilities and their future," it added.
The three countries have been at odds over the filling and operation of the dam, under construction near Ethiopia's border with Sudan on the Blue Nile, which flows into the Nile river.
The United States has hosted several rounds of talks in Washington with ministers from the three regional powers and the World Bank after years of trilateral negotiations failed.
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Tuesday that Washington was disappointed after Ethiopia skipped last week's round.
"We have been trying to bring the parties together. They have made enormous progress. We were incredibly disappointed that Ethiopia didn't show up for the last meeting," Mnuchin told a hearing of the US House Ways and Means Committee.
"It is an important issue for the entire region. It is obviously a grave concern, there are safety concerns, there are water concerns," he added
Egypt on Sunday accused Addis Ababa of "deliberately" not attending the last round of talks in Washington last week "to hinder the path of negotiations".
The dam is the centrepiece in Ethiopia's bid to become Africa's biggest power exporter but has sparked fears in Cairo that Egypt's already scarce supplies of Nile water, on which its population of more than 100 million people is almost entirely dependent, would be further restricted.
Even without taking the dam into account, largely desert Egypt is short of water. It imports about half its food products and recycles about 25 billion cubic meters of water annually.
Addis Ababa, which announced the project in 2011 as Egypt was beset by political upheaval, denies the dam will undermine Egypt's access to water.