President Donald Trump backs talks between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan to resolve the ongoing dam dispute between the three African countries, the White House said.
The US leader voiced his support in a phone call with his Egyptian counterpart, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the Oval Office said in a statement on Monday.
“President Trump expressed support for Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan’s ongoing negotiations to reach a collaborative agreement on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam,” Judd Deere, White House spokesperson said.
El-Sisi thanked Trump on social media for his support in the trilateral negotiations describing the US leader as being of “unique standing with the power in dealing with conflicts… and finding crucial solutions for them.”
Egypt’s foreign minister said last week the Trump administration had invited the three countries to a meeting in Washington on November 6 to try to break the deadlock in the talks.
Cairo fears the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) could restrict already scarce supplies of water from the Nile, on which it is almost entirely dependent. Ethiopia says the dam is crucial to its economic development.
In recent weeks, Egypt has called for an external mediator on the issue, saying three-way talks have been exhausted.
Ethiopia has previously rejected the idea, and is expected to start filling the reservoir behind the dam next year.
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 has 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.