Egypt’s Sisi banks on Trump’s support in Nile dam talks
Cairo, Nov 5 (AFP/APP): Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi thanked US President Donald Trump Monday on social media for his support in the trilateral Nile damn negotiations later this week.
Sisi described Trump as being of “unique standing with the power in dealing with conflicts… and finding crucial solutions for them.”
He expressed his gratitude to Trump for “his efforts in sponsoring the tripartite negotiations.”
The talks scheduled for Wednesday in Washington will bring Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan to the table to discuss Ethiopia’s Renaissance Dam, which will be fully operational by 2022.
Discussions between the three countries broke down this year prompting Egypt to call for international mediation last month.
Addis Ababa insists its $4 billion hydro-electric barrage is necessary to provide the country with much-needed electricity.
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But Egypt fears the mammoth structure could drastically reduce the flow of the Nile, on which it depends for around 90 percent of its water supply.
A US official said earlier this month that Sisi had asked Trump to get involved in the deadlock when they met in September on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
Trump agreed to reach out to Ethiopia and offered the “good offices” of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to mediate the dispute, the official said on condition of anonymity.
“I reiterate my full confidence in… finding a consensus that assures the rights of all parties within the framework of international law and humanitarian justice,” Sisi added in tweets posted late Monday.
Last month, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed told parliament, in reference to the dam, that “if we are going to war… we can deploy many millions”.
Egypt’s slammed his strident comments as “unacceptable”.
Abiy, who won this year’s Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to heal tensions with neighbouring Eritrea, emphasised however that negotiations would be the best way to resolve the issue.
Ethiopia and Sudan have confirmed their attendance at the summit after Egypt quickly accepted the US offer to mediate.
The Nile is a lifeline supplying both water and electricity to the 10 countries it traverses.
Its main tributaries, the White and Blue Niles, converge in the Sudanese capital Khartoum before flowing north through Egypt to drain into the Mediterranean Sea.
Analysts fear the three Nile basin countries could be drawn into a conflict if the escalating spat is not resolved before the dam begins operating.