US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said that his country is ready to provide assistance to Ethiopia in resolving the Renaissance Dam crisis, as well as the border dispute between Ethiopia and Sudan, and the conflict in the Tigray region.
Sullivan and Ethiopian Deputy Prime Minister Demiki Mekonnen stressed, in a phone call Thursday, the importance of continuing regional dialogue to resolve the dispute related to the Renaissance Dam that Ethiopia is building on the course of the Nile River.
According to a White House statement, the two sides agreed on the importance of the support provided by the African Union to reach a peaceful solution to the two crises of the Renaissance Dam and the borderlands of Fashaqa between Ethiopia and Sudan.
And Sudanese Foreign Minister Maryam Al-Sadiq Al-Mahdi ruled out taking a “military option” to prevent Ethiopia from continuing to build the dam.
Al-Mahdi said, “There is no room for talking about the military option. We are now talking about political options.”
Al-Mahdi had stated before that that all options are open to Sudan to maintain its security and that of its citizens.
She added, “There will be a broad polarization of world opinion, and most importantly, African opinion, especially in the neighboring countries and the Nile Basin countries, to prevent Ethiopia from moving ahead with destabilizing the security of important countries.”
And Sudanese Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok said in statements to state television that the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam carries real risks if a binding legal agreement on filling and operation is not reached, and he stressed that the risks to Sudan are greater than Ethiopia, whose borders are located, and Egypt, which Thousands of miles away.
This comes amid the continuation of the dam crisis, which ended unsuccessful negotiations that brought the parties under the auspices of the African Union.
Egypt and Sudan accuse Ethiopia of “lacking the political will” to push for negotiations to reach a solution.
Ethiopia is counting on the dam to boost its capacity to generate electricity, as well as to drive economic development.
Egypt sees the dam project as a threat to its existence. It depends on the Nile to provide about 97 percent of its irrigation and drinking water.
Sudan fears that its dams will be damaged in the event that Ethiopia completely fill the dam.
On Wednesday, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi warned Ethiopia of the risk of conflict over the dam.
Al-Sisi addressed his speech to those he described as “our brothers” in Ethiopia, warning of the consequences of compromising Egypt’s share of the Nile water, saying that it is not necessary to reach the stage of “you touch a point of water from Egypt,” indicating Egypt’s openness to all options.
Al-Sisi said, “Cooperation and agreement is much better than any other action,” referring to his country’s coordination with Sudan, and that the move will take place within the framework of “the justice of our cause and within the framework of international law regulating the movement of water through international channels.”
Sudanese Irrigation Minister Yasser Abbas said on Wednesday that “all options are open” to deal with the crisis, including returning to the UN Security Council.
The minister accused Ethiopia of causing the failure of the negotiation round, after rejecting all proposals related to facilitating the negotiation process.
A round of tripartite negotiations on the Renaissance Dam was concluded in Kinshasa days ago without reaching an agreement.
The Ethiopian Minister of Water and Irrigation, Slichi Bakli, said on Wednesday that his country is proceeding with the process of the second filling of the Renaissance Dam, a day after Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia announced the failure of negotiations between them.
Ethiopia said it would continue the second phase of filling the dam’s reservoir as scheduled during the next rainy season. And the country announced last July that it had achieved its goal in the first year of filling, which angered Egypt and Sudan.
The dispute between Egypt and Ethiopia revolves around the period of filling and how to operate the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the course of the Nile River.