U.S. Says Time Running Out for Agreement on Disputed Nile Dam

Bloomberg - David Herbling / Michael Cohen

Ethiopia may be running out of time to negotiate an agreement on the filling and operation of a mega-dam on the Nile River thats pitted the Horn of Africa nation against Egypt and Sudan, the U.S. State Department said. “Time is short and the window to achieving an agreement may be rapidly closing; constructive and fruitful engagement among the three parties is encouraged,” the department said in an emailed response to questions.

African Union-brokered talks between Ethiopia, Egypt and neighboring Sudan ended in mid-July without an agreed time-line for the filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. Egypt, which depends on the Nile River for most of its water needs, is opposed to any development that may significantly impact the flow downstream, a position Sudan shares. Ethiopia is developing a 6,000-megawatt power plant at the site, and asserts the right to use the resource for its development.

It’s possible to reach a “balanced and equitable agreement that takes into account the interests of the three countries if there is a commitment among all to do so,” the State Department said. President Donald Trump, at the request of Egypt, last year began mediating talks to break the impasse over the use of the Nile. The African Union is currently mediating the dispute.