Trump-me­di­ated Nile dam talks ‘went well’ and hope is for agree­ment by Jan­uary

The National - News - - NEWS - JOYCE KARAM Wash­ing­ton

A first meet­ing by the US gov­ern­ment to me­di­ate the Nile dam dis­pute be­tween Egypt, Ethiopia and Su­dan ended on Wed­nes­day with no break­through but it “went well”, US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump an­nounced on Twit­ter.

For­eign min­is­ters from Egypt, Su­dan and Ethiopia – Sameh Shoukry, Asma Ab­dal­lah and Gedu An­dar­gachew – met Mr Trump, US Trea­sury Sec­re­tary Steve Mnuchin and a rep­re­sen­ta­tive from the World Bank at the White House.

They were try­ing to re­solve the dis­pute over the Grand Ethiopian Re­nais­sance Dam, or Gerd, which Egypt says will rob it of a cru­cial wa­ter sup­ply.

Mr Trump tweeted a photo of him­self with the rep­re­sen­ta­tives be­hind the Res­o­lute Desk. “Just had a meet­ing with top rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Egypt, Ethiopia, and Su­dan to help solve their long-run­ning dis­pute on the Grand Ethiopian Re­nais­sance Dam, one of the largest in the world, cur­rently be­ing built,” Mr Trump posted on Twit­ter.

“The meet­ing went well and dis­cus­sions will con­tinue dur­ing the day.”

The Trea­sury Depart­ment set two more meet­ings and a dead­line of mid-Jan­uary for an agree­ment.

In a joint state­ment re­leased by the Trea­sury, the min­is­ters reaf­firmed their com­mit­ment “to reach a com­pre­hen­sive, co-op­er­a­tive, adap­tive, sus­tain­able and mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial agree­ment on the filling and op­er­a­tion” of the dam.

It said they agreed “to hold four tech­ni­cal gov­ern­ment meet­ings at the level of wa­ter min­is­ter” by Jan­uary 15, 2020, to reach an agree­ment. They also agreed on meet­ings in Wash­ing­ton on De­cem­ber 9 and Jan­uary 13, 2020 to as­sess and sup­port progress.

If no such agree­ment is reached, the state­ment said “the for­eign min­is­ters agree that Ar­ti­cle 10 of the 2015 Dec­la­ra­tion of Prin­ci­ples will be in­voked”, which would bring in out­side me­di­a­tion for the is­sue.

The dam is a $4 bil­lion (Dh14.7bn) project by Ethiopia an­nounced in 2011 be­ing built on the Blue Nile, which ac­counts for about 85 per cent of the Nile’s wa­ter.

Meet­ing with Egypt, Ethiopia and Su­dan

... went well and dis­cus­sions will con­tinue dur­ing the day DON­ALD TRUMP US Pres­i­dent

Egypt says the dam will worsen its wa­ter cri­sis and pose a threat to its econ­omy.

Egyp­tian Pres­i­dent Ab­del Fat­tah El Sisi wel­comed US me­di­a­tion and praised Mr Trump’s ef­forts, call­ing him “a unique man who pos­sesses the strength to face and deal with cri­sis”.

Mr Trump’s ad­viser and sonin-law, Jared Kush­ner, also at­tended the talks and held a meet­ing with Mr Shoukry on Tues­day, Egyp­tian me­dia re­ported.

But a break­through was not achieved on Wed­nes­day and ex­perts pre­dict a num­ber of dis­agree­ments ahead.

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