US Special Envoy to the Horn of Africa Ambassador Mike Hammer shakes the hand of MP Karim Darwish, Chair of the House of Representatives’ Foreign Affairs Committee in parliament on Tuesday 26 July, 2022. Photo courtesy of US embassy in Cairo Facebook page.
Cairo is the first stop for Hammer before heading to the United Arab Emirates and Ethiopia in a regional tour focusing on the GERD issue.
“I came to Cairo on my first official trip to the region to hear from our Egyptian partners on the critical issue of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam and to better understand Egypt’s water needs,” Special Envoy Hammer said, adding the US is actively engaged in "supporting a diplomatic way forward under the African Union’s auspices that arrive at an agreement that provides for the long-term needs of every citizen along the Nile.”
During their recent meeting in Jeddah, President Joe Biden reiterated to President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi the United States’ support for Egypt’s water security and to forging a diplomatic resolution that would achieve the interests of all parties and contribute to a more peaceful and prosperous region.
Special Envoy Hammer’s visit to Cairo, which took place just days after the two presidents met, focused on this priority, the US Department of State said.
The special envoy’s meetings in Cairo included the inter-agency team responsible for GERD negotiations with Ethiopia and Sudan at the Egyptian foreign ministry.
Mike Hammer met with MP Karim Darwish, Chair of the House of Representatives’ Foreign Affairs Committee in parliament.
“Special Envoy Hammer’s engagement on the GERD builds on a strong record and history of US partnership with Egypt,” the statement said, adding that over the past four decades, the US has provided over $3.5 billion to strengthen Egypt’s water security by bringing clean water to a quarter of Egypt’s population, upgrading Cairo and Alexandria’s water treatment services, modernising the Aswan Dam’s power station, and building water infrastructure for residents in North Sinai.
During the meetings, Chargé d’Affaires Nicole Shampaine also delivered an invitation from the White House to President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi to attend the US-Africa Leaders’ Summit on 13-15 December.
“Egypt’s participation in the summit would help the region and bolster US-Egypt and US-Africa relations, as we work together to address global challenges,” the statement said.
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, while 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.