November 5, 2019
President Donald Trump says he supports negotiations on the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.
It was in a telephone conversation with Egyptian president Abdul Fetal el-Sisi that Trump expressed his support to a “collaborative agreement” in the Ethiopian Dam talk.
Reuters quoted White House spokesperson Judd Deere’s statement on Monday in which he said ““President Trump expressed support for Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan’s ongoing negotiations to reach a collaborative agreement on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.”
Arab News sources seem to have taken the statement as an assurance to the Egyptian president. Gulf News reported on Monday with the headline “Trump assures Al Sissi on Ethiopia dam row.”
Bassam Radi, Egyptian president spokesperson says “President Trump confirmed his personal interest in the success of these negotiations and that he will receive the foreign ministers of the three countries at the White House at the start of the negotiations in a sign of his great keenness on getting positive and fair results from these negotiations,” as reported by Gulf News.
President Donald Trump is, clearly, a supporter of Egyptian president. He called him “my friend” during their meeting in Washington on September 23 and described him as “a real leader.” But there is no indication at this point if he supports Egyptian position in the dam talk.
Ethiopia has said that there is no negotiation in the United States between the three countries. According to a report by Ethiopian News Agency (ENA), the United States “called” the three countries to Washington to hear their position on the dam talk. Ethiopia has been saying that international mediation does not solve the problem but tripartite negotiation.
The source also said that Egyptian media misrepresenting the discussion as “negotiation.”
Gedu Andargachew, Ethiopia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs is in the United States, as is the case with the foreign ministers of Sudan and Egypt, to attend what the Ethiopian government calls “discussion.”
Earlier Ethiopian media outlets reported that Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who recently met with Sisi in Russia, would attend the meeting which is not the case.
Egypt has been calling for international mediation after the water ministers from the three countries were unable to reach an agreement regarding the filling and operation of Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam. While Egypt blames Ethiopia for it, the country which is the source for more than 84 percent of the Nile water blamed the Arab Republic in North East Africa as the cause for the failure to reach agreement.
What Ethiopia opposed in particular was Egypt’s intention to violate the sovereignty of Ethiopia against the very principle of the agreement in the Declaration of Principles which was signed in 2015. Egypt, among other things, wants to open an office in the project site to monitor the filling and operation of the Ethiopian Dam.
In Ethiopia, there seems to be a widely held belief among politicized Ethiopians that Egypt is exploiting radical ethnic nationalists in Oromo region of Ethiopia to destabilize the country.
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