U.S. President Donald Trump had a telephonic conversation with his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Monday during which he voiced support for negotiations between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on Ethiopia’s Blue Nile River.
“President Trump expressed support for Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan’s ongoing negotiations to reach a collaborative agreement on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam,” the White House said in a statement, reported Reuters.
Notably, the Trump administration has offered to host talks on between officials from Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia to settle the dispute over the dam on November 6. The Monday statement did not mention anything about the meeting scheduled in Washington.
Egypt is concerned that the dam could restrict already scarce supplies of water from the Nile, on which it is almost entirely dependent, while Ethiopia says the dam is crucial to its economic development as it will dramatically increase the country’s power generation capacity,
The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) is under construction since 2011 on the Nile in Ethiopia. Ethiopia is willing to fill it within six years, but Egypt prefers a 10-year time frame as it claims six years is too fast and will reduce the flow of the Nile, its main source of fresh water.
In recent weeks, Egypt has called for an external mediator on the issue, saying three-way talks have been exhausted. Ethiopia has previously rejected the idea and is expected to start filling the reservoir behind the dam next year.
On Sunday, Egyptian Foreign Ministry confirmed Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry headed to Washington for U.S.-brokered talks over the controversial dam on the shared Nile River.
Shoukry said last week that the Trump administration had invited Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan to a meeting in Washington on Wednesday to try to break the deadlock in the negotiations.