Three-Way Ethiopia Dam Talks to Resume After Trump Warning

This combination image made from satellite images taken on June 26, 2020, above, and July 12, 2020, below, shows the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile river in the Benishangul-Gumuz region of Ethiopia. New satellite imagery shows the reservoir behind Ethiopia’s disputed hydroelectric dam beginning to fill, but an analyst says it’s likely due to seasonal rains instead of government action. (Maxar Technologies via AP)

KHARTOUM, Sudan (AFP) — Sudan said it will hold three-way talks Tuesday with Egypt and Ethiopia on a controversial Nile dam project that U.S. President Donald Trump has warned could spark military action.

Their foreign and irrigation ministers are to hold a videoconference brokered by the African Union (AU), the Sudanese irrigation ministry said, after a three-month suspension of dialogue between the neighboring states on the Ethiopian construction.

Ethiopia at the weekend accused Trump of inciting “war” over the mega-dam after the president on Friday spoke out against the project and said Egypt might destroy it.

Foreign Minister Gedu Andargachew summoned US ambassador Michael Raynor to clarify Trump’s latest foray into a delicate, long-running dispute over Nile waters between Ethiopia and its downstream neighbors Egypt and Sudan. 

“The incitement of war between Ethiopia and Egypt by a sitting U.S. president neither reflects the long-standing partnership and strategic alliance between Ethiopia and the United States, nor is acceptable in international law governing interstate relations,” his ministry said.

Trump told reporters on Friday: “It’s a very dangerous situation because Egypt is not going to be able to live that way… They’ll end up blowing up the dam.”

On Saturday, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s office defended the dam and said Addis Ababa was committed to AU-led talks that it said had made “significant progress.”

Egypt depends on the Nile for about 97% of its irrigation and drinking water and sees the dam as an existential threat, while Ethiopia views the project as essential for its electrification and development.

The U.S. announced last month it was suspending a portion of its financial aid for Ethiopia, citing a lack of progress in talks and Addis Ababa’s “unilateral decision” to start filling the dam’s reservoir.

© Agence France-Presse

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