(FILES) This file photo taken on December 26, 2019, shows a general view of the the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) under construction, near Guba in Ethiopia. AFP
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken highlighted to DR Congo’s President Félix Tshisekedi on Tuesday the importance of the African Union’s role in reducing conflict and mediating the talks on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).
Tensions between Sudan and Egypt on the one hand and Ethiopia on the other recently increased after Addis Ababa informed the two downstream countries earlier this month that it had started the second phase of filling the dam’s reservoir, a step that Egypt and Sudan have condemned.
Egypt and Sudan call for a binding deal on the filling and operation of the dam that they say would preserve their water rights and protect their people against potential significant harm.
Their demand has been met with Ethiopian resistance, leading rounds of AU-sponsored talks on the issue to collapse and causing Egypt and Sudan to resort to the United Nations Security Council earlier this month.
The US has frequently voiced its commitment to exerting efforts to reach an agreement on the GERD that preserves the water and development rights of all parties.
Blinken and Tshisekedi spoke about a number of topics, including the GERD, the deteriorating situation in Ethiopia’s Tigray, and the Congolese chairmanship of the AU, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement.
Blinken stressed that the US has grave concerns about the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, read the statement.
Fighting started in Tigray between the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) and government forces last November, after the government accused the TPLF of attacking its military bases, an accusation the TPLF has denied.
According to Reuters, the conflict has caused the death of thousands of people, the displacement of about 2 million, and has left 5 million people relying on emergency food aid.
Blinken and Tshisekedi discussed the need for prioritising environmental protection and combating the climate crisis during DR Congo’s chairmanship of the AU.
Blinken hailed Tshisekedi’s leadership of the AU, the statement added.