By Nizar Manek
The U.S. Treasury invited Ethiopia and Egypt for talks, part of growing international efforts to quell a dispute over a giant dam that’s being built on the Nile River.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is convening the meeting in Washington, which the World Bank’s president will attend if the two African countries and mutual neighbor Sudan also participate, a spokesperson for the lender said Thursday. Ethiopia and Egypt’s foreign ministries have both said they’d accepted U.S. invitations for Nov. 6 talks.
Tensions have flared in recent weeks over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile River, which is set to be Africa’s biggest hydropower project when completed. Egypt and Ethiopia are striving to reach an agreement on how to fill the dam’s reservoir — a process crucial to ensuring a reliable flow to Egypt, which depends on the Nile for almost all its fresh water.
Neither U.S. Treasury nor U.S. embassies in the two countries could immediately comment. Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said Tuesday that his country would take part in the negotiations with Ethiopia and Sudan in Washington to break a “deadlock” over the dam. He didn’t specify the Treasury’s involvement.
Ethiopia Water Minister Sileshi Bekele, who confirmed Wednesday that his country had received the U.S. Treasury’s invitation, said the three African nations are already due to hold the sixth of nine planned technical meetings on filling and dam operations in the first half of November in Ethiopia.
(Recasts with World Bank statement.)
–With assistance from Abdel Latif Wahba.
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