US special envoy to start regional tour in Cairo addressing GERD

Ahram Online , Saturday 23 Jul 2022

US Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa (SEHOA) Mike Hammer will kick off a regional tour addressing the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) from 24 July to 1 August, starting in Cairo before heading to the United Arab Emirates and Ethiopia, the US Department of State announced.

GERD
File Photo: This general view shows the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) in Guba, Ethiopia, taken on February 19, 2022. AFP

 

According to the US state department, Hammer’s visit aims to provide US support toward forging a diplomatic resolution to issues caused by the GERD in order to achieve the interests of all parties and contribute to a more peaceful and prosperous region.

In Addis Ababa, the US special envoy will also consult with the African Union, under whose auspices GERD talks had been taking place, the state department added.

In an interview with Egypt’s official news agency MENA last week, Regional Spokesperson for the US State Department Geraldine Gassam Griffith said that the US supports all efforts exerted by Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia to hammer out a permanent solution to the GERD issue.

She said that the US has had discussions with the three countries and is ready to provide any technical assistance should the three parties request it.

Being an observer in the African Union-led GERD talks, Washington seeks to facilitate a fruitful dialogue and a constructive approach to negotiations by all parties to the dispute, Griffith said.

UAE’s Abu Dhabi hosted two rounds of technical talks in the past months between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia in an attempt to revive the talks, but without any progress.

The African Union has sponsored the talks between the three countries in the past few years in an attempt to reach a solution.

Egypt and Sudan, the two downstream countries, have been involved in decade-long talks with Addis Ababa over the dam.

Egypt is concerned that the filling and operation of the GERD will harm its historic share of the Nile water.

Meanwhile, Sudan is worried about the impact of the GERD on regulating flows to its own dams.

Egypt and Sudan, who do not oppose the GERD outright, have sought to reach a binding deal with Ethiopia on the filling and operation of the dam while Ethiopia has rejected all such attempts.

In the absence of a legally binding deal, Ethiopia unilaterally completed the first and second filling of the dam, and started earlier this year operating the first turbine of the GERD to generate power.

It also seeks to start the third filling in August and September, according to a recent announcement by the GERD project manager.

Some 85 percent of the Nile’s waters in Egypt flow from the Ethiopian highlands through the Blue Nile – one of the Nile’s two main tributaries, along with the White Nile.

During his visit to Ethiopia, Special Envoy Hammer will also review developments in the Tigray war, including progress on the delivery of humanitarian assistance, and accountability for human rights violations and abuses as well as efforts to advance peace talks between the Ethiopian government and Tigrayan authorities.

The statement of US Department of State added that the US remained committed to advancing diplomatic efforts in support of an inclusive political process towards lasting peace, security and prosperity for all people in Ethiopia.

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