Ethiopia summons US ambassador over Trump comments in dam dispute

US president suggested Egypt might bomb Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam

FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: Water flows through Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam as it undergoes construction work on the river Nile in Guba Woreda, Benishangul Gumuz Region, Ethiopia September 26, 2019. Picture taken September 26, 2019. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri/File Photo/File Photo

Ethiopia summoned the US ambassador over what it called an “incitement of war” between Ethiopia and Egypt from President Donald Trump over their dispute about the filling and operation of a hydroelectric dam on the Nile.

Mr Trump called for an agreement between the countries but said it was a dangerous situation and that Cairo could end up “blowing up that dam”.

Ethiopian Foreign Affairs Minister Gedu Andargachew summoned Ambassador Mike Raynor on Saturday to seek clarification over the comments.

“The incitement of war between Ethiopia and Egypt from a sitting US president neither reflects the long-standing partnership and strategic alliance between Ethiopia and the United States, nor is it acceptable in international law governing inter-state relations,” the Ethiopian foreign affairs ministry said.

Mr Trump made the comments on Friday during a call with Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok after Sudan and Israel announced their intention to normalise ties.

Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt are locked in a dispute over the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

Mr Trump said he had brokered an agreement to resolve the issue but accused Ethiopia of breaking the pact, forcing him to cut US funding.

“They will never see that money unless they adhere to the agreement ... You can’t blame Egypt for being a little upset.”

The president said he had also urged Egypt to resolve the dispute.

On Saturday, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s office said “occasional statements of belligerent threats to have Ethiopia succumb to unfair terms still abound”.

The first phase of filling the dam, which began in July, was completed in August, it said.

Egypt said it is dependent on the Nile for more than 90 per cent of its fresh water supplies, and feared that the dam could have a devastating effect on its economy.

Mr Abiy’s office said there had been significant progress made in resolving the dispute since the African Union took over the negotiations.

“Now is the time for action and not for increasing tensions,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said before the Ethiopian ministry issued its statement.