The administration of US President Donald Trump is considering withholding some aid allocated to Ethiopia due to the country’s filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam’s (GERD) reservoir, according to an article in Foreign Policy Magazine that quotes six US members of congress on Wednesday.
The reservoir has raised divisions within Trump’s administration, ever since Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi asked Trump to help mediate negotiations over the dam in 2019, the congressional members added.
US participation in talks over the GERD’s construction has helped advance the talks.
Members of congress pointed out that “Ethiopia refused to sign a final agreement,” although new signs of progress on negotiations have emerged.
The Trump administration reached the conclusion that it must stand with Egypt during negotiations, a US official familiar with the matter said.
“The Trump administration aims to help Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan achieve a fair agreement on the filling and operation of GERD that addresses the three countries’ interests,” a spokesperson for US Treasury said, asserting that the US administration works as a neutral mediator.
The Trump administration’s intention to withhold the aid sends a positive signal to US officials and observers who fear that military confrontation will erupt between Egypt and Ethiopia if Ethiopia continues filling the reservoir without reaching a final agreement with Egypt.
Two officials in the Trump administration said that withholding the aid is an indication that negotiators have laid the groundwork for a final agreement.
Another official said, “The Trump administration’s engagement in negotiations helped Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan achieve more progress over the past nine months than was made in the past nine years.”
Several officials said that the Trump administration could move forward with withholding the aid if Egypt and Ethiopia fail to reach a final agreement over GERD.
The Trump administration did not reveal the amount that would be cut if the decision to withhold the aid is implemented, the officials noted.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm