Antony Blinken and Abdalla Hamdok discuss peace talks, disputed border and Nile dam

The US Secretary of State welcomed a recent agreement between Khartoum and a rebel group and addressed the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken tweeted after the call that the US looks forward 'to continuing our support for Sudan’s civilian-led transitional government as it pursues a democratic and peaceful future for its people.' AFP 
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken tweeted after the call that the US looks forward 'to continuing our support for Sudan’s civilian-led transitional government as it pursues a democratic and peaceful future for its people.' AFP 

The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken welcomed Khartoum’s recent move towards peace talks with a major rebel group.

He discussed tension between Sudan and Ethiopia, including that concerning the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, with Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok on Monday.

“The prime minister and the secretary discussed US support for the civilian-led transitional government’s efforts to advance the peace process, address regional and economic issues and promote political reforms,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said.

“Secretary Blinken welcomed the recent declaration of principles signed with the Al Hilu movement [Sudan People’s Liberation Movement – North] and stressed the importance of ensuring protection of civilians throughout Sudan.”

Abdelaziz Al Hilu, the leader of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement – North, signed a declaration of principles with Mr Hamdok’s transitional government in Juba, South Sudan, last week. It was aimed at paving the way towards peace talks.

Mr Al Hilu’s group controls a significant chunk of territory in southern Sudan, where many of the country’s Christian minority live.

Khartoum has endeavoured to reach peace deals with Sudan’s myriad rebel groups since the removal from power in 2019 of president Omar Al Bashir.

The State Department said Mr Blinken and Mr Hamdok “also discussed negotiations related to the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam as well as the need to de-escalate tension between Sudan and Ethiopia over the Al Fashaga border area, including recent commitments to engage in dialogue to resolve the issue”.

The civil war in Ethiopia’s Tigray region has created tension on the disputed border with Sudan, raising the spectre of an expanded regional conflict.

After Ethiopia and Amhara fighters moved to fight in Tigray, Sudanese soldiers swept in to retake much of Al Fashaga, a fertile stretch of the countries’ shared border.

Sudan has also accused Ethiopia of holding up negotiations over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile.

The US has been mediating talks between Sudan, Ethiopia and Egypt over the dam’s construction construction.

Cairo says the dam would inhibit Egypt’s fair share of access to Nile water.

Sudan moved closer to Egypt’s position on the dam after recent flare-ups on Al Fashaga border.

Mr Blinken’s discussion with Mr Hamdok also comes after Sudan paid the United States $335 million in terrorism compensation as part of a settlement agreed to last year after Khartoum signed on to the Abraham Accord, which normalised its relations with Israel.

In return, the US removed Sudan from its list of state sponsors of terrorism and partially restored its sovereign immunity.

Updated: April 5, 2021 10:28 PM

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