Egyptian, U.S. leaders hold phone talks on Ethiopia Nile dam, Libya crisis

Egyptian, U.S. leaders hold phone talks on Ethiopia Nile dam, Libya crisis

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, announced in 2011, is expected to generate more than 6,000 megawatts of power [Tiksa Negeri/Reuters]

(africa.cgtn)–Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi held a phone conversation with U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday, discussing the Ethiopian grand dam built on the Nile River and the development of the Libyan crisis.

Sisi and Trump exchanged views on the current situation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) and the relevant negotiations between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan, said Egyptian presidential spokesman Bassam Rady in a statement.

Over the past few years, tripartite talks on the rules of filling and operating Ethiopia’s grand hydropower dam have been fruitless, including those hosted by Washington, amid Egyptian concerns that the GERD construction would affect Egypt’s annual share of Nile water.

Earlier on Wednesday, Egypt called on Ethiopia not to take any unilateral action with regards to filling the dam until a tripartite agreement is reached.

The Egyptian and U.S. leaders also discussed the Libyan crisis in the light of the recently proposed Egyptian initiative for a peaceful settlement in the war-torn country.

Dubbed Cairo Declaration, the Egyptian plan seeks to implement a cease-fire between Libyan warring parties, disbanding militias, handing over their arms, pulling out foreign forces, electing a ruling presidential council which represents all Libyans, and drafting a constitutional declaration to regulate later elections.

“Trump welcomed the Egyptian efforts to achieve a political settlement to the crisis and end the violence by supporting cease-fire in Libya and activating the will of the Libyan people to achieve security and stability in their country,” said the Egyptian presidential spokesman.

Libya has been locked in a civil war since the ouster and killing of former leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

Ethiopia urges Egypt to stop pressure over Nile dam

Trilateral talks between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan resuming after collapse in February

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia 

(aa)—Ethiopia has urged Egypt to stop “exerting external diplomatic pressure” while the trilateral talks on the Nile dam Ethiopia is constructing have resumed between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan on Tuesday.

The call came in a press release issued by the Ministry of Water Resources, Irrigation and Energy at the end of the second-day of trilateral talks on the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

The negotiations restarted recently after the collapse of US-sponsored talks last February with Ethiopia quitting, saying US Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin openly sided with Egypt by calling on Ethiopia not to start filling its $5 billion hydro dam before a trilateral agreement is reached.

Ethiopia maintains that the Declaration of Principles on GERD signed by the three countries in March 2015 provides that construction and negotiation can go parallel.

During the second day of the latest negotiations, Ethiopia and Sudan submitted their positions with Ethiopia saying negotiations will only focus on the first-stage filling and annual operation of the dam.

“[…] Ethiopia calls on the Parties to engage in genuine dialogue and negotiation in order to make sure their concerns are incorporated in the guidelines and rules for first filling and annual operation of GERD and earnestly hopes that the international community will urge them to do so,” the statement read.

“Nevertheless, Egypt’s approach to participate in the ongoing tripartite negotiation while at the same time attempting to resort to the United Nations Security Council for the second time to exert external diplomatic pressure is not an in indication of transparency and good faith in the negotiation,” it noted.

“Ethiopia strongly believes building the necessary trust and confidence among the parties to make progress in the tripartite discussion is absolutely imperative,” it stressed.

According to the statement, Ethiopia maintained that the role of the observers — the EU, US and South Africa — would not exceed “… observing the negotiation and sharing good practices when jointly requested by the three countries.”

The three countries agreed to continue to meet daily except Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays.

But there is already a gap between the positions of Egypt and Ethiopia as to which earlier document to use as reference, with Ethiopia saying the February 12-13, 2020 legal and technical document to provide a basis for this round while Egypt has insisted that the last document, which Ethiopia and Sudan failed to sign, be the point of reference.