US to send delegation to Africa to discuss GERD issue: Al-Hurra news channel

Zeinab El-Gundy , Thursday 25 Mar 2021

The delegation is considered the first direct involvement of the Biden administration in the GERD issue.

A general view of the Blue Nile river as it passes through the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), near Guba in Ethiopia AFP

US-based news channel Al-Hurra reported on Thursday that a US diplomatic delegation is set to travel to Kinshasa, Cairo, Khartoum and Addis Ababa to discuss issued related to the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

A spokesperson for the US Department of State, who asked to remain anonymous, said the delegation includes US special envoy to Sudan Donald Booth, principal deputy assistant secretary for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs Jonathan Moore, and deputy assistant secretary for North Africa and Near Eastern affairs Karen Sasahara.

“Through that fact-finding delegation, we hope to hear from all the concerned parties including the African Union about the best ways that the US can support their efforts to find a path to go forward,” the anonymous spokesperson told Al-Hurra.  

This is the first public diplomatic move taken by the Biden administration concerning the controversial dam.

The Trump administration participated in the GERD talks and organised a round of negotiations in Washington last February 2020, which culminated in an agreement that Ethiopia refused to sign.

In September 2020, the Trump administration suspended around $272 million in aid to Ethiopia because of the GERD talks, a decision that was reversed by the Biden administration in February 2021.

The talks between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia reached a deadlock after the failure to reach an agreement over the filling and operation of the GERD in January 2021.

Both Egypt and Sudan are calling for the signing of a legally binding agreement before the second filling of the dam, which is set to commence in July, according to the Ethiopian officials.

Sudan has suggested a quartet committee comprising the AU, the US, the EU and the UN mediate the GERD talks.

Egypt has supported the suggestion, but Ethiopia says it prefers to stick with AU-sponsored talks.

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