Ethiopia says Disappointed with Outcome Of US-sponsored Dam Talks

ADDIS ABEBA – The Ethiopian government has dismissed the United States’ treasury office’s statement that indicates agreement has been concluded over renaissance dam talks.

Addis Ababa and Cairo have been at odds in a water war on the issue of the filling and operation of the hydroelectric dam that Egypt worries could threaten its supply of water from the Nile.

Ethiopia informed the U.S. that it would not partake in this week’s talk ahead of time saying “the country’s delegation hasn’t concluded its consultation with relevant stakeholders,” and asked Washington to postpone the discussion.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, however, went on to host bilateral negotiations with foreign and water resources ministers of Egypt and Sudan.

In a statement issued after the meeting on Saturday, Munchin said the U.S. government has “facilitated the preparation of an agreement” on the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

“The United States believes that the work completed over the last four months has resulted in an agreement that addresses all issues in a balanced and equitable manner, taking into account the interests of the three countries,” the statement says.

The U.S. also cautioned Ethiopia saying the final testing and filling of the dam “should not take place without an agreement” while praising “the readiness of the government of Egypt to sign the agreement”.

The latest discussion took place as many protesters expressed anger at the perceived favoritism of the U.S. toward Egypt in the dispute.

The government of Ethiopia too said it noted the latest statement issued by Munchin’s office “with disappointment”.

“Ethiopia does not accept the characterization that the negotiation on the Guidelines and Rules on the First Filling and Annual Operation of the GERD (Guidelines and Rules) is completed,” the government said in a statement today.

The “text” reportedly initialed by Egypt in Washington D.C. is not the outcome of the negotiation or the technical and legal discussion of the three countries.

Ethiopia made it clear that the Guidelines and Rules must be prepared by the three countries, says the statement indicating that countries are yet to address outstanding issues pertaining to the finalization of the Guidelines and Rules.

Ethiopia has been urging Mnuchin since Feb. 13 to postpone the talks, as well as remind the U.S. of its “neutral observer status”.

Ethiopia and Egypt, the second and third biggest nations in Africa in terms of population size, have said the future of the Nile is a matter of national security.

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam – Ethiopia is building on its own – will generate about 6,000 megawatts once completed.

The discussion, which also involves the World Bank as an observer, initially had a Jan. 15 deadline for a solution. Further talks in January and February have failed to break the deadlock.

“Ethiopia will not sign any agreement that will give up its right to use the water of the Nile,” Fitsum Arega, Ethiopia’s ambassador to the U.S., said in a tweet ahead of the meetings.

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