US, EU signal they may be ready to step in on Ethiopian dam
Is Khartoum pushing for international intervention in GERD despite Addis Ababa’s objections? The EU should push the parties to the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) conflict to return to the negotiating table, Sudanese Irrigation Minister Yasser Abbas told the head of the EU Delegation in Sudan, Robert van den Dool, in a meeting over the weekend. The statement from the Sudanese ministry was otherwise scant on details, saying only that Abbas briefed van den Dool on the latest negotiations and on Khartoum’s position on the issue. The minister also had a similar conversation with the US Charge d’Affaires Brian Shukan to stress the danger of failing to reach an agreement with Ethiopia over GERD, according to a separate statement.
The EU is ready to mediate if formally requested, and is “willing to raise its level of participation in the negotiations” if the negotiating parties want that, EU Ambassador in Cairo Christian Berger said in an interview with Al Akhbar picked up by the local press. In the meantime, the EU “supports” the current African Union-led negotiations, with the Democratic Republic of Congo at the head of the AU.
New US overseer? The US has appointed veteran diplomat Jeffrey Feltman to act as a special envoy for the Horn of Africa, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Friday. GERD will be one of Feltman’s top priorities, Blinken said.
Reminder: Ethiopia has said “no” to bringing in the US, EU and UN as international mediators, insisting instead that the negotiations continue under the sponsorship of the AU. Addis Ababa reiterated its opinion last week that the best way forward would be to take the talks back to the AU.
IN OTHER DIPLO NEWS-
MBZ in Cairo: Security issues in the region — including GERD — was the main topic of discussion between President Abdel Fattah El Sisi and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed during talks in Cairo yesterday, Ittihadiya Spokesperson Bassam Rady said in a statement. Both sides also discussed boosting bilateral cooperation especially in economy and investment in various fields, as well as the two countries’ efforts to curb the fallout of the covid-19 pandemic pandemic. Zayed last visited Cairo in December.
Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry wrapped his African tour over the weekend, after making the final stop in Tunisia on Thursday. Shoukry met with Tunisian President Kais Saied to discuss the GERD impasse and pass along a letter from President Abdel Fattah El Sisi debriefing Saied on the latest developments, and Egypt’s position on the matter. The foreign minister already made stops in Kenya, Comoros, South Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Niger, and Senegal.
Supporting water desalination, digital transformation, and the green recovery are among the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development’s priorities in Egypt in the near future, EBRD President Odile Renaud-Basso said following a meeting between Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly and over her two-day visit to Cairo last week, according to a cabinet statement.
Libyan Foreign Minister Najla El Mangoush has accepted an invitation to visit Egypt for talks, spokesperson Ahmed Hafez said in a statement. The invitation was made by Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry during a phone call at the weekend, during which the ministers discussed recent efforts to stabilize Libya following years of conflict.