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Egypt says US should use leverage, pressure on Ethiopia to resolve dam issue

Published: Updated:

A senior Egyptian diplomat said Tuesday that the Biden administration is not putting enough pressure on Ethiopia to help resolve the controversy surrounding Addis Ababa’s construction of a controversial dam on the Nile River.

“We haven’t seen that kind of pressure for the past year, and what is needed is to continue the effort that had been spearheaded by the previous administration,” Egyptian Ambassador to the US Motaz Zahran said.

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Zahran was referring to the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which Egypt wants to be filled slowly.

“It’s existential for Egypt, simply put. Without the waters of the Nile, life will cease to exist,” the diplomat told Al Arabiya English during an event by Al-Monitor in Washington.

He called on Ethiopia and all parties to reach an agreement accepted by all sides.

Asked what could happen if diplomatic efforts remain stalled, Zahran said: “You will have a situation whereby Egypt will have to look at all its options.”

Months after the Biden administration came to office, the US president appointed a special envoy for the Horn of Africa, signifying renewed US interest in resolving disputes there.

But domestic issues, coupled with the chaotic Afghanistan withdrawal and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, have taken attention away from Ethiopia and Sudan.

Two different US envoys stepped down in what sources believe was the result of frustration at the lack of backing from senior administration officials.

However, Zahran said Egypt would like to see a more “proactive US that is able to shepherd the process” towards a mutually agreed solution.

“We’ve seen an administration that has put on the table here in Washington a document that has not catered to the interests of Egypt, Ethiopia or Sudan fully,” the ambassador said. “The United States has an important role to play. The United States has leverage, and it is always advised for the US to use that leverage in terms of bringing goodness and righteousness to the region.”

Read more: Ethiopia to start generating electricity from Nile dam