USA to cut Ethiopian aid from dam policy

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The State Department building is pictured in Washington

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. State Department said Friday that Washington would decouple its hiatus on aid to Ethiopia from its policies over the giant Blue Nile hydropower plant, which sparked a longstanding dispute between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan.

U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters that President Joe Biden's administration will review U.S. policies regarding the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) and assess the government's role in facilitating a solution between the countries can play.

A bitter dispute between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan over the filling and operation of the dam remains unresolved even after the reservoir behind the dam began to fill in July.

"We continue to support joint and constructive efforts by Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan to reach an agreement on GERD," said Price.

The temporary suspension of certain U.S. foreign aid to Ethiopia impacts $ 272 million in development and security aid to Ethiopia, Price said, adding that aid resumption will be assessed based on a number of factors and that the decision is inclusive Addis Ababa was divided.

The factors assessed include "whether any suspended program remains appropriate and timely in light of developments in Ethiopia that occurred after the break was in place," a Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

The United States has expressed concern over the humanitarian crisis in the Tigray region of Ethiopia, where the central government defeated a rebellious regional government in a conflict that began in November.

Ethiopia began to fill the reservoir behind the dam after last year's summer rain, although Egypt and Sudan had demanded that a binding agreement be reached on the dam's operation first.

Egypt views the dam as a major threat to its freshwater supply, more than 90% of which comes from the Nile. The Blue Nile flows north into Sudan, then Egypt, and is the main tributary of the Nile.

Ethiopia says the dam is critical to its economic development.

Then USA. President Donald Trump said Ethiopia broke a US-brokered agreement to settle the dispute and forced him to cut funds. The United States cut $ 100 million in aid to Ethiopia in September.

In October, Ethiopia summoned the US ambassador to Trump for a so-called "incitement to war" between Ethiopia and Egypt over their dispute.

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